J&J COVID-19 vaccine delay won't impact U.S. vaccination plan : White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The pause of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine will not slow U.S. vaccination efforts, the White House COVID-19 coordinator said on Tuesday, adding that officials were working to reschedule people with other shots made by Pfizer and Moderna.

FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled “COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine” and sryinge are seen in front of displayed Johnson&Johnson logo in this illustration taken, February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

“This announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said in a statement. He added that the administration is on pace to continue delivering 3 million vaccinations per day and meeting President Joe Biden’s goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office.

Zients said the pause was announced “out of an abundance of caution” and that the United States has secured enough Pfizer and Moderna doses for 300 million Americans.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier on Tuesday said they were pausing use of the J&J vaccine after six recipients in the United States – out of more than 6.8 million – developed a rare disorder involving blood clots.

The FDA was holding a news conference Tuesday morning, while the CDC has scheduled a meeting for its immunization advisers to review the cases on Wednesday. Zients and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, are scheduled to address the daily White House news briefing at 12:45 p.m. (1645 GMT).

The pause in administering the J&J vaccine does not impact the two other approved COVID-19 vaccines in the United States made by Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc. But it could impact public perceptions at a critical time as the Biden Administration races to vaccinate the public even as at least one variant has taken hold.

U.S. health officials had already been grappling with production delays of J&J’s vaccine following issues with its manufacturing partner Emergent BioSolutions Inc.’s plant in Baltimore. The company has said it planned to have enough of the two other vaccines to meet U.S. demand by the end of May.

The one-shot J&J version, however, was considered an important addition in bringing the vaccine into harder-to-reach populations since it does not require cold storage or a second appointment.

“This is definitely going to cause a ripple effect,” Dr. Kavita Patel, a primary care physician who served as former President Barack Obama’s White House health policy director, told CNBC in an interview.

Besides the public health impact, the vaccination effort is also key to reviving the nation’s economy.

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