J&J manufacturing delays hit US vaccine rollout

The rollout of the US COVID-19 vaccination programme slowed up this week because manufacturing delays mean no new doses of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine are available.

The White House said on Tuesday that the government will distribute around 18.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week, fewer than last week because of a shortage of J&J’s vaccine, which was developed by its Janssen unit.

At a news briefing White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the US government plans to distribute 15.8 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine to states, tribes and territories, with another 2.7 million doses going to pharmacies.

This figure was down on the 21 million doses of all three vaccines distributed last week, which included more than 3.5 million doses of the J&J vaccine.

Manufacturing of the J&J shot has been slower than expected and the pharma does not expect to deliver any doses this week, with shipment expected to resume later this month.

Latest figures from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that more than 123 million vaccine doses have been delivered and more than 61 people have received at least one shot, covering nearly 24% of the adult population.

Just over 32 million people are fully vaccinated, around 12.6% of the adult population.

The delays with the J&J vaccine, which requires only a single dose to reach its maximum efficacy, will be a disappointment after a successful weekend.

Figures from the CDC showed the 5.3 million vaccine shots were given out over the weekend, a record figure.

Public health officials have called on state leaders to keep social distancing measures in place to avoid a new surge in the virus.

President Joe Biden said last week that US would have enough vaccine doses for every adult by the end of May, two months earlier than expected.

Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, reiterated calls from the president to wear masks.

“We’re on a path – we need to make sure that we do not let down our guard,” he told NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday.

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