State health officials are increasingly concerned about whether the doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine could expire this month and warn that they could be wasted if left unused or not sent elsewhere in the coming weeks.
Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio has pleaded with health care providers in his state using around 200,000 doses of the vaccine he said would expire on June 23. The state health department instructed providers to implement a “first-in, first-out” process for vaccination to ensure that doses with an earlier expiration date were used first. Arkansasas State Epidemiologist said last week that up to 60,000 cans of Johnson & Johnson may not be used there in time.
Dr. Marcus Plescia, who represents state health officials as chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said he believes expiration risk is an issue for Johnson & Johnson in every state. Over 10 million doses of the vaccine have been delivered to states but not administered. according to dates collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Andy Slavitt, a White House pandemic adviser, said at a news conference Tuesday that the federal government is encouraging governors to consult with the Food and Drug Administration on storage procedures as the agency is looking at ways to potentially extend the shelf life of the vaccine. He said the agency was examining “options for further storage”.
A F.D.A. The spokeswoman on Tuesday referred questions about the vaccine’s shelf life to Johnson & Johnson, which did not respond immediately. Pharmaceutical companies typically conduct studies that determine the shelf life of products that the F.D.A. in their registration documents for the vaccine.
Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine can be stored for three months at normal refrigeration temperatures, conditions that have allowed states to reach more isolated communities that may find it more difficult to use Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines manage. who have stricter storage requirements.
State health concerns about the Johnson & Johnson doses have been accompanied by a sharp drop in vaccination rates across the country. As of Monday, providers were administering an average of around 1.13 million doses per day, a decrease of around 67 percent from the high of 3.38 million on April 13. About 64 percent of adults have received at least one injection, according to federal data.
Ohio officials said this week that they are not legally allowed to ship the cans to any other state or country. Once vaccines have been shipped to the states, federal regulations have banned the recall even if they are not needed domestically.
As the US struggles to use up its supply of vaccines, other countries continue to ask the US and other wealthier nations to share the doses. More than 2.18 billion vaccine doses have been given worldwide, the equivalent of 28 doses per 100 people, with some countries not yet reporting a single dose, so Our world in data at Oxford University. There are 24 countries that use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the General Director of the W.H.O., complained at a press conference on Monday in what he called a “two-pronged pandemic” in which wealthy countries consume much of the world’s vaccine supply.
“The unfair distribution of vaccines has allowed the virus to spread further, making it more likely that a variant will emerge that makes vaccines less effective,” said Dr. Tedros, adding that “the biggest obstacle to ending the pandemic continues to be sharing: of cans, of resources, of technology.”
Speaking at the White House news conference, Mr Slavitt said it was unrealistic to expect the United States to avoid wasting some doses of vaccine, adding that any expired Johnson & Johnson doses did not affect government efforts to vaccinate other countries would significantly affect.
“There is a very, very small fraction of the cans that have been sent to states that ultimately aren’t used,” he said. “These will be fractions and really will not have a significant impact on our ability to commit to the worldwide distribution of vaccines.”
The Biden government has pledged to send 80 million cans overseas by the end of the month. Many of these cans were manufactured by AstraZeneca and are currently in a F.D.A. Security check.
Last week the government announced that it would initially distribute 25 million cans this month in a “wide range of countries” in Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia and Africa, and in the Palestinian Territories, the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Three quarters of the first batch goes to the international vaccine initiative Covax.