Deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the US are set to plummet by more than 80 percent next week — as the manufacturer struggles with a production problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC’s website indicates that more than 4.9 million doses of J&J’s vaccine were allocated within the US last week — but next week, only 700,000 doses will be provided.
Federal officials have cautioned states that there could be fluctuations in available vaccine supply, but it isn’t clear why next week’s supply, specifically, is seeing such a sharp decrease in availability, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Though J&J recently faced a production issue at a contract manufacturer’s plant in Baltimore — which some state officials have pegged as the cause — that plant is not officially authorized by U.S. regulators to supply doses in the U.S.
The New Brunswick, NJ-based corporation has been making the vaccine’s main ingredient at its own plant in the Netherlands, which has doled out the vaccines available in the US since it was authorized in late February, according to the report.
A J&J spokesman declined to comment to the Journal about next week’s dip in supply, but said that 100 million does are still set to be delivered to the US for use by mid-year — possibly the bulk of it by late May.
Together with US regulators, the corporation is also working toward the authorization of the Baltimore plant, according to the spokesman.
While the US is expected to receive millions of doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines next week, state officials said the drop in available J&J doses could lead to fewer vaccine appointment slots overall, according to the Journal.
“It definitely is way lower than what we were expecting,” Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s state vaccine coordinator, told the Journal. “It’s just going to take longer for those who want a vaccine to be able to get vaccinated.”
The J&J vaccine would be a strong option for college students returning home at the end of the spring semester, because it is administered as a single dose — unlike the Pfizer and Moderna jabs which are given as two separate doses weeks apart, Avula said.
Earlier this week, around a dozen people reportedly suffered adverse reactions — including nausea and dizziness — to the single-dose vaccine at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park site in Commerce City, Colorado.
In response, Johnson & Johnson said it is “collecting the necessary information” about the individuals who received the jab and would share their findings with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and “other appropriate health authorities.”