Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is prepared to distribute 20 million doses of its single-shot vaccine to prevent COVID-19 if it wins regulatory authorization in the coming days.
“Assuming necessary regulatory approvals relating to our manufacturing processes, our plan is to begin shipping immediately upon emergency use authorization, and deliver enough single-doses by the end of March to enable the vaccination of more than 20 million Americans,” said Richard Nettles, Johnson & Johnson’s vice president of medical affairs for the company’s pharmaceutical division Janssen.
Nettles will face the House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday to discuss positive findings in clinical trials for its shot, which will be considered for emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration’s outside panel of experts on Friday.
The vaccine can be stored in temperatures of 36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit for up to three months, making it most appealing for facilities that lack the ultra-cold freezers necessary to keep Pfizer’s two-dose vaccines viable for up to six months. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two doses three and four weeks apart, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has been proven 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 with just one shot. The efficacy rate is even higher, 85%, for preventing severe illness that would result in hospitalization or death.
The addition of the single-dose vaccine could further boost the daily vaccination rate, which has reached nearly 1.4 million shots on average over the past week. More than 64 million shots have been administered in the United States so far, setting the Biden administration up for an easy victory in its bid to administer 100 million shots in 100 days.
“Our current manufacturing plans are designed to meet our objective, which we announced last year, to produce the vaccine at a rate of one billion doses globally by the end of 2021,” Nettles said.
The pharmaceutical company inked a $1 billion deal with the Trump administration last August to supply the government with 100 million initial doses with the option of procuring up to 300 million more shots.