White House: J&J pause will not affect vaccine drive

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WASHINGTON

The decision by US’s health agencies to immediately halt the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine will not meaningfully affect the wider US vaccine drive, the White House said on Tuesday.

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said in a statement that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision “will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan.”

“Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date,” he said.

The US under President Joe Biden has secured enough Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans, with more than 25 million vaccine doses being made available each week, the White House said forecasting 28 million available doses this week.

“This is more than enough supply to continue the current pace of vaccinations of 3 million shots per day, and meet the President’s goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office,” said Zients. “We are working now with our state and federal partners to get anyone scheduled for a J&J vaccine quickly rescheduled for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.”

The CDC and FDA earlier halted the distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine after the discovery of six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot that developed about two weeks after the vaccine was administered

Unlike vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one dose, meaning it greatly reduced the time it would take to fully vaccinate an individual. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines require two shots spaced apart by four or three weeks respectively.

The US is in the midst of a sweeping vaccination campaign attempting to outpace new strains of the virus before they can form.

The US has administered 190 million vaccines nationwide with about 36% of the population having received at least one dose, according to CDC data. More than 20% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

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