White House Says Vaccine Developers on Track to Meet End of March Deliveries
Vaccine developers look to be meeting their vaccine supply commitments for March, a senior White House official confirmed yesterday.
“Vaccine manufacturers report to us that they remain on track to meet their targets by the end of the month,” said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser for the White House’s COVID-19 response, in a media briefing yesterday.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is committed to delivering 20 million doses by March 31 and is obligated to deliver 100 million total by June 1 (DID, March 1). Beyond that date, the company has agreed to supply an additional 100 million doses in the second half of this year.
But it is unclear whether J&J will meet its June 1 delivery deadline if it doesn’t pick up the pace in April and May. The company has secured manufacturing pacts with Emergent BioSolutions, Catalent and with Merck (DID, March 3), but it will take time for those plants to be fully operational.
Emergent BioSolutions, for example, is reportedly awaiting regulatory clearance from the FDA allowing its facility to produce the J&J vaccine’s drug substance. The Biden administration has invoked the Defense Production Act to help Merck get two of its facilities up to speed to produce the drug substance and to expand the fill-and-finish capability for J&J’s vaccine.
In addition, the FDA has granted emergency approval to Catalent’s plant in Blooming, Ind., to help manufacture the J&J vaccine. That facility will ship millions of pre-packaged vials, which could quickly help ease current supply bottlenecks. The vials will certainly be needed because the U.S. has ordered an additional 100 million doses to be delivered in the second half of this year.
J&J is also taking on new international commitments. The company announced yesterday that it has struck an advance purchase agreement with the African Union for delivery of 220 million doses for the beginning the third quarter of this year. That deal also includes an option for an additional 180 million doses, bringing the potential total to 400 million vaccine doses for the African Union’s 55 member states.
Moderna and Pfizer, meanwhile, are also ramping up supplies. Moderna announced yesterday that it had shipped its initial order of 100 million vaccine doses to the U.S. government — part of a 300 million-dose contract. The company shipped 44 million doses in March and said it will continue to ship 40 million to 50 million doses per month through the end of July, fulfilling its 300 million-dose contract.
Pfizer has so far shipped more than 90 million doses total in the U.S. and is also committed to shipping 300 million doses by the end of July. ― Jason Scott