President Joe Biden will announce Wednesday he’s directing officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to purchase an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine, multiple outlets report, which would allow for manufacturing challenges or needed booster shots and provide the U.S. with more than enough doses to inoculate its population.
Biden intends to announce the decision Wednesday at a meeting with Johnson & Johnson and Merck executives, NBC News and the New York Times report.
Biden has said the U.S. has enough doses to cover all U.S. adults by mid-May and the government has already secured extra doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, but the Times notes the additional shots would be used for children, or potentially as booster shots or to adapt to protect against new variants of the coronavirus.
White House officials told the Times, which first reported the deal, that the administration was hoping to secure more doses to “prepare for unpredictable challenges,” like manufacturing issues or new, more dangerous variants of the virus emerging.
The doses are likely to come “sometime in the second half of this year,” officials told the Times, and Biden’s announcement Wednesday will only be a “first step” toward negotiations on the extra shots kicking off.
20 million. That’s how many vaccine doses Johnson & Johnson is contracted to provide to the U.S. government by the end of March, and the company testified to Congress it is on track to deliver 100 million doses within the first half of 2021. Of those, approximately 3.3 million have already been delivered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration in February, and the single-shot drug has been rolled out nationwide. The drug has been shown in clinical trials to be approximately 66% effective at warding off moderate to severe Covid-19–though the exact figure was dependent on the region and the coronavirus variants present, with efficacy shown to be slightly higher in U.S. trials–and testing showed the vaccine was effective at preventing Covid-19 hospitalizations and death. The reported negotiations for more doses comes after Johnson & Johnson has faced issues ramping up its manufacturing, and is unlikely to deliver any additional doses to the U.S. this week. The White House brokered a deal last week for Johnson & Johnson to work with rival pharmaceutical company Merck on production of its vaccine in order to speed up the process.
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