Pfizer ramps up COVID-19 vaccine production as US suggests a pause on J&J doses
The Johnson & Johnson vaccination halt comes over concerns about health risks
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said Tuesday that it is prepared to ramp up production of its COVID-19 vaccine after U.S. federal agencies recommended a pause on administering injections of the Johnson & Johnson version over health risks.
In a Twitter post, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company can deliver 10% more doses than previously agreed to – a total of 220 million – by the end of May. He also said Pfizer will have the full 300 million doses scheduled for delivery in the U.S. by the end of July, two weeks early.
The extra doses of Pfizer may help offset a potential reduction in expected vaccine doses, depending on what health authorities decide to do with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine moving forward.
Moderna Inc. also responded to the Johnson & Johnson troubles, emphasizing the safety of its vaccine.
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Federal health agencies on Tuesday suggested a pause on administering the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine while they dig deeper into reports from several women between the ages of 18 and 48 who said they fell ill with "a rare and severe type of blood clot" – as described by the CDC – within two weeks of receiving the vaccine. One of the women died.
Nearly 7 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the U.S.
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The CDC is set to convene a meeting on Wednesday to review the cases.
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said the health and safety of people who use its products is its number one priority.
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Even without Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, White House officials said they remain on track to have enough supplies to vaccinate most American adults by the summer.
"We believe there’s enough vaccine in the system — Moderna and Pfizer — for all Americans who want to get vaccinated by May 31 to do so," said Jeff Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.