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The Biden administration anticipates shipping out 3 to 4 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine next week — if the Food and Drug Administration green-lights it for emergency use, officials said Wednesday.
“If authorized we are ready to roll out this vaccine without delay,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said during a virtual press briefing.
Zients explained that on Tuesday he updated the nation’s governors on the administration’s plans to distribute Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine if the FDA grants emergency use authorization.
“The governors are carefully planning their efforts and getting ready for the possible new vaccine,” said Zients, noting that the distribution approach for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “will mirror the current allocations process across jurisdictions, pharmacies and community health centers.”
The FDA backed Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine as safe and effective earlier Wednesday, ahead of a Friday meeting in which a panel of experts will decide whether to recommend it for emergency use.
The agency affirmed the pharma company’s finding that the vaccine was 66 percent effective overall at warding off moderate and severe COVID-19 cases, and 85 percent effective at preventing the most serious infections.
Johnson & Johnson has pledged to deliver 20 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by late June.
“We’re working with the company to accelerate the pace and timeframe by which they deliver the full 100 million doses, which is required by contract by the end of June,” Zients said.
“While we await the FDA’s decision, we want the American people to know that we’re doing the work so that if the EUA is granted, we will waste no time in getting this lifesaving vaccine into the arms of Americans.”
Should the FDA authorize the Johnson & Johnson shot, it would be the third COVID-19 vaccine available in the US following the two-dose vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.
New York City officials have said they hope that the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help in inoculating homebound Big Apple residents.
“The big piece we want to get to is the literally in-home vaccination of folks who cannot leave their home — that really requires the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Zients announced during Wednesday’s briefing that the Biden administration is set to deliver more than 25 million “high-quality” and American-made cloth face masks to community health centers and food banks across the country starting next month.
“While masks are widely available in many different shapes and sizes, many low income Americans still lack affordable access to this basic protection,” said Zients. “That’s why we’re taking this simple action to keep Americans safe.”
Anyone who wants a mask will be able to go into one of the 1,300 community health centers and 60,000 food pantries where the masks are slated to be available and pick them up free of charge, Zients said.
The mask effort has an $86 million price tag, he said.