The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were tested before the discovery of variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, meaning those two vaccines likely benefited from higher efficacy rates and more straightforward results.
But once the Johnson & Johnson shot receives emergency use authorization, which could come shortly after a scheduled scientific committee meeting this Friday, the administration will begin working to get it out right away.
Once they get the go-ahead, Zients said, 3 million to 4 million doses will be delivered by next week, and 20 million are scheduled to be delivered by the end of March. Johnson & Johnson is required by contract to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June.
“While we await the decision, we want the American people to know we’re doing the work. So if the emergency use authorization is granted, we’ll waste no time getting the lifesaving vaccine into the arms of Americans,” Zients said.
When the Biden administration assumed power 5 weeks ago, he said, it became clear the company was behind on manufacturing. Since then, the White House has helped with equipment and raw materials to speed up the process.
“It was disappointing when we arrived,” Zients said, “and I think the progress is real.”
The White House response team also announced the delivery of 25 million fitted cloth masks for adults and children to health centers and food banks nationwide in a continued effort to protect underserved Americans.
As officials scramble to get vaccines and protective gear to the public, scientists are also working overtime to learn more about the long-term effects of COVID-19, said Anthony Fauci, MD, the White House COVID-19 Response Team’s chief medical adviser. On Feb. 23, the National Institutes of Health launched an initiative to further study this phenomenon.
Fauci called post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 — or PASC — “alarming” and “puzzling,” stressing that even those with moderate cases of the virus can be inflicted.