The U.S. vaccine supply for next month just got bigger.
On Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson said it will be ready next month to ship 20 million doses of its one-shot vaccine. That adds to a coming surge in vaccine availability, according to a Bloomberg analysis of drugmaker promises.
Along with vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., which both require two doses, the delivery targets through next month will be enough to fully vaccinate 130 million Americans.
Bloomberg’s analysis is based on company statements, data on the number of shots already delivered and conversations with people familiar with the efforts who spoke on condition of anonymity. The analysis assumes J&J’s shot, which hasn’t been approved yet, is cleared for use and that drugmakers meet their new delivery targets — not a guarantee.
U.S. Vaccine Supply Is About to Get Much Bigger
Manufacturers promise enough shots to cover 130 million through March
The vaccine makers are appearing before Congress Tuesday to give an overview of the rollout so far. J&J will be ready to hand over 4 million doses upon approval and a total of 20 million doses in March, Richard Nettles, J&J’s vice president of U.S. medical affairs for infectious diseases and vaccines, told Congress Tuesday. That new promise updates an analysis Bloomberg published last week that had assumed J&J would deliver fewer shots early on.
“We are confident in our plans to deliver 100 million single-dose vaccines to the United States during the first half of 2021, and we are continuing to partner with the U.S. government to explore all options to accelerate delivery,” Nettles said. The company should be able to produce a billion doses globally by the end of the year, he said.
Some U.S. officials had previously talked down delivery expectations for J&J’s vaccine. Earlier this month, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said the U.S. expected to receive only a “few million” J&J doses when it was cleared for use, and that deliveries from the company would be back-loaded. J&J’s delivery target issued Tuesday gives a more optimistic target.
Pfizer Chief Business Officer John Young told lawmakers in his prepared remarks the company had ramped up production and would be able to supply 2 billion doses around the world by the end of the year. Young told Congress Tuesday that the company plans to make available 13 million doses in the U.S. a week by mid-March. And Moderna said it plans to deliver about 55 million doses between now and the end of March — an average rate of about 11 million a week.
In total, a cumulative 240 million doses will have been made available by the end of the month, according to those projections.
Currently in the U.S., about 1.4 million doses are being administered per day, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, a number that would be higher if not for winter storms that impacted vaccine efforts around the country.
Vaccinations have been limited by supply, with the U.S. distributing about 10 million to 15 million doses a week, enough to perform 1.4 million to 2.1 million doses a day. By April, according to the latest supply projections, the U.S. should have enough doses to perform almost 4 million vaccinations a day, on average.
J&J’s vaccine is particularly efficient because it can be given as one dose — unlike Moderna’s and Pfizer’s, which both require two shots. That not only means that fewer doses are needed, but also fewer vaccine appointments and health staff are needed to complete the vaccinations.
A Shot at Normalcy
Vaccine manufacturers have moved up their timelines for delivering doses. These are their latest cumulative targets for completing deliveries.
J&J has submitted an emergency use application to the Food and Drug Administration, and a panel of outside experts will review the vaccine on Feb. 26. Clearance of the shot could come within days of that review.
Under the Trump administration and now under President Joe Biden, the U.S. has made pre-purchase deals for more than 1.2 billion doses. It’s enough to vaccinate 655 million people, far more than the U.S. population of about 330 million. The over-purchasing was done with the expectation that some vaccines could fail in development or have manufacturing problems.