Plunging Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Supply Dents State Inoculation Efforts

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WASHINGTON — Supplies of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine will be extremely limited until federal regulators approve production at a Baltimore manufacturing plant with a pattern of quality-control lapses, the White House’s pandemic response coordinator said on Friday.



a group of people performing on a stage: A mass vaccination site in San Juan, P.R., in March. Johnson & Johnson was a latecomer to winning federal authorization for emergency use, after Pfizer and Moderna.


© Ricardo Arduengo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A mass vaccination site in San Juan, P.R., in March. Johnson & Johnson was a latecomer to winning federal authorization for emergency use, after Pfizer and Moderna.

With allocations of the company’s vaccine set to plunge by 86 percent next week, governors across the country warned that the loss of supplies they had been counting on would set back their vaccination drives.

Federal officials said Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, the other two federally authorized vaccine manufacturers, could make up some of the shortfall. They also pointed out that some states were not currently using all the vaccine allocated to them.

But increases from Moderna and Pfizer will not wholly make up for the plunge in Johnson & Johnson supply, at least in the short term. California will receive 400,000 fewer overall doses next week than this week, a drop of 15 percent, even with slight increases from Pfizer and Moderna. That will be followed by another 5 percent decrease the next week, state officials said on Friday. Officials in a broad band of states said the sudden drop in Johnson & Johnson supply would significantly slow inoculation efforts.



The drop-off in Johnson & Johnson doses is directly tied to quality-control issues at the 112,000-square foot plant in southeast Baltimore, run by Emergent BioSolutions.


© Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock
The drop-off in Johnson & Johnson doses is directly tied to quality-control issues at the 112,000-square foot plant in southeast Baltimore, run by Emergent BioSolutions.

“The last thing we wanted to hear about was we’re getting less vaccines,” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, told reporters Friday. “We were hoping to ramp up as they’ve been promising.”

In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, said, “We will not be able to get as many shots into New Yorkers’ arms as we would like.” He added, “As has been the case since the beginning of our vaccination effort, the X factor is supply, supply, supply.”

Some state health officials had hoped to use Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot, easily stored vaccine to target college students and other transient groups. Others were offering it at mass vaccination sites or directing it to rural areas.

Instead, shipment of doses of Johnson & Johnson next week will drop severely in states: California will fall from 572,700 to 67,600 doses, Texas from 392,100 to 46,300, Florida from 313,200 to 37,000 and Virginia from 253,400 to 27,900.

In Virginia, which will broaden vaccine eligibility to its entire adult population in nine days, the effect will be “huge,” Dr. Danny Avula, the state vaccine coordinator, said. He said that officials would have to warn people that even though they would be eligible to sign up for shots, appointments could be hard to come by.



Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot, which has become a popular weapon for state health officials across the country, could come close to temporarily disappearing.


© Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot, which has become a popular weapon for state health officials across the country, could come close to temporarily disappearing.

Johnson & Johnson was a latecomer to winning federal authorization for emergency use, after Pfizer and Moderna. But as recently as late February, federal officials were projecting weekly deliveries of more than four million doses of the company’s vaccine in April, a significant increase to the nation’s vaccine stock. Only a quarter of those doses, at best, are now expected this month — all from the Netherlands — while federal regulators comb through the Baltimore factory that was supposed to take over for the Dutch plants.

The falloff comes as new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus are sending infection rates soaring in some parts of the country. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said on Friday that she had urged Mr. Biden to surge vaccines into her state, where an outbreak, the worst in the nation, has filled hospitals and forced some schools to close.

But the White House is reluctant to change the allocation formula for states, which doles out doses equally based on population. Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said on Friday that the administration did not plan to shift additional vaccine doses to hard-hit states like Michigan.

“At this point that’s not being deployed, but I am not giving up,” Ms. Whitmer said, describing a call Thursday evening with the president. “Today it’s Michigan and the Midwest. Tomorrow it could be another section of our country.”

The drop-off in Johnson & Johnson doses is directly tied to quality-control issues at the 112,000-square foot plant in southeast Baltimore, run by Emergent BioSolutions, a subcontractor to Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson discovered last month that Emergent workers had contaminated a batch of vaccine and was forced to…



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