The Biden administration put Johnson & Johnson in control of manufacturing at the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore last week after 15 million doses of its vaccine were contaminated by another vaccine being made at the plant by AstraZeneca.
“Johnson and Johnson expects a relatively low level of weekly dose delivery until the company secures FDA authorization,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said Friday at a media briefing. “With FDA authorization, the company expects a cadence of up to 8 million weekly doses total across state and federal channels later in April.”
The company and government have not said when that clearance is expected.
Johnson & Johnson and Biden team have said that the company met its obligations to produce 20 million doses of its vaccine by the end of March. It met that goal with a delivery of 11 million doses last week. The company has imported doses from overseas while the Emergent plant remains unapproved. Domestic capacity will increase further later this year when a partnership with Merck for production at Merck factories bears fruit.
“I do think that the company is doing everything they can,” Zients said at the Friday briefing. “They now have complete responsibility for that whole facility. They have their best people at that plant, and they are partnering with Merck, who has expertise.”
The last time Johnson & Johnson publicly pledged to produce another 24 million doses this month was on March 31. Since then, the company in public statements has said only that it will meet a target of 100 million doses delivered by the end of May.
The company did not respond Friday to questions about why it has dropped the April pledge.
Johnson & Johnson has an unknown volume of doses prepared and ready to distribute once the Emergent plant does win certification.
“The company continues to work closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration toward” manufacturing certification of Emergent’s Baltimore facility, Johnson & Johnson spokesman Jake Sargent said in an email Friday. “The Company expects to deliver nearly 100 million single-shot doses of its coronavirus vaccine to the U.S. Government by the end of May.”