The Biden administration on Tuesday said it has just 4 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine to deliver to states and federal partners next week — the latest indication the company is lagging in its commitment to deliver 20 million shots to the federal government by the end of this month.
Nearly 4.6 million of the company’s shots have been sent to states and federal vaccine programs since the FDA authorized the vaccine in late February. While next week’s tranche would represent the biggest jump in supply since the first week of allocations, it may not get the company even halfway to its self-imposed goal.
The supply situation has frustrated administration officials trying to deliver on President Joe Biden’s directive to offer vaccines to all U.S. adults by May. The White House was counting on the single-dose J&J shot to reach underserved populations and accelerate the country’s return to normal. POLITICO on Monday reported that the administration is increasingly concerned the company won’t make its target.
White House officials told governors in a private call Tuesday that the federal retail pharmacy program is slated to receive 1.5 million J&J shots next week, according to one source on the call. States are set to receive around 2 million doses, according to three individuals with knowledge of the administration’s distribution plans.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday confirmed that 4 million doses are on hand for delivery next week.
J&J is pushing back against suggestions it won’t hit its target. In a statement to POLITICO Monday, J&J spokesperson Jake Sargent said that the company “expect[s] to deliver 20 million single-shot vaccines by the end of March.” The company made the pledge last month in testimony before Congress after failing to meet its original goal of delivering 12 million shots by the end of February.
J&J did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the latest delivery news.
Logistical complications and regulatory delays may be complicating production, according to three individuals with knowledge of the situation. J&J is shipping vaccine components from Europe while awaiting for the Food and Drug Administration to authorize two American partners, Emergent BioSolutions and Catalent, for help producing the shots. “Millions” of doses could be available once that authorization comes through, which is expected in the coming days.
J&J’s single shot vaccine was supposed to accelerate the country’s return to normal. The Biden administration has directed states to make all adults eligible by May 1 and anticipated the country becoming closer to normal by July 4.
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