Today during a House Committee on Energy & Commerce hearing, chief executives from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Novovax addressed US lawmakers for the first time since July 2020 on the production of vaccines and when Americans could expect more doses.
According to Richard Nettles, MD, vice president of US medical affairs for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen division, his company will be able to immediately ship vaccine doses upon a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA). An FDA advisory board meets on Feb 26 to consider granting an EUA to Johnson & Johnson.
“This will enable the vaccination of more than 20 million Americans by the end of March,” Nettles said of an expected EUA. “And we are prepared to deliver 100 million doses during the first half of the year.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be the first adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in the United States. It would also be the first single dose vaccine, and require only traditional refrigeration.
Nettles also said the company is prepared to produce 1 billion doses of vaccine globally before the year’s end.
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Pfizer to increase weekly doses
John Young, chief business officer of Pfizer, and Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, also addressed the committee on how their mRNA vaccines—already in use in the United States —could be quickly altered to protect against new variants if needed.
“We have no real world evidence [of reduced efficacy] against B117, but we are looking at a booster,” said Young.
Young also said his company is increasing available supply of his vaccine quickly. At the beginning of February Pfizer was delivering 4 to 5 million doses each week. By mid-March, that number is expected to be 13 doses per week, Young said, and all 300 million contracted doses to the United States should be delivered by the end of July, enabling the full vaccination of 150 million Americans.
Today the Washington Post reported the Biden administration told governors to expect allowed doses to the states to grow from 13.5 million to 14.5 million per week.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID Data Tracker, 82,114,370 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, and 65,032,083 have been administered, with 19,882,544 Americans receiving two doses.
No additional trials for variant-based boosters
In related news, the FDA yesterday said it would not require further large clinical trials for vaccine booster shots designed to target variant strains of COVID-19. The FDA updated guidance of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and therapeutics.
“The FDA is committed to identifying efficient ways to modify medical products that either are in the pipeline or have been authorized for emergency use to address emerging variants,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD.
“We know the country is eager to return to a new normal and the emergence of the virus variants raises new concerns about the performance of these products.”
According to the latest update from the CDC, there are 1,661 reported cases of B117 in 44 states, 22 cases of B1351 in 10 states, and five cases of P1 in four states.
The US reported 54,456 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and 1,347 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total, the US has 28,221,129 cases, including 501,663 deaths.