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.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has asked health care providers in his state to use around 200,000 doses of the vaccine that he said will expire on Monday’s “out” process for the shot to ensure that doses with an earlier expiration date are used first were. The Arkansas state epidemiologist said last week that up to 60,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson may not be used there on 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. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 10 million doses of the vaccine have been delivered to states but not administered.
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 is looking into “options for further storage”.
An FDA spokeswoman 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 FDA may use in their regulatory 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 vaccine supplies, other countries continue to ask the US and other wealthier nations to share the doses. According to Our World in Data at Oxford University, more than 2.18 billion doses of vaccine have been administered worldwide, which is 28 doses per 100 people, with some countries not yet reporting a single dose. There are 24 countries using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, lamented at a press conference Monday 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, increasing the chances of a variant emerging that makes vaccines less effective,” said Dr. Tedros, adding that “the biggest obstacle to ending the pandemic continues to be the sharing of cans, resources, 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 distribute vaccines around the world.”
The Biden government has pledged to send 80 million cans abroad by the end of the month. Many of these cans were made by AstraZeneca and are currently under FDA safety clearance.
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.