Check out the latest COVID-19 vaccine news in the U.S. today.
Coronavirus Latest News USA:
- U.S. vaccinates more than 50 million people
- Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins in the U.S.
- Johnson & Johnson looks for partners to ramp up supply of COVID-19 vaccine
- FedEx shipping Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine
Today, more than 50 million Americans have received their first COVID-19 shot, another milestone for the US vaccine rollout just as Johnson & Johnson prepares to ship out its single-dose vaccines.
The United States has administered at least one dose to 50.7 million people, which is up from the initial 49.8 million one day earlier. This equates to around 15.3% of the total population, or 19.9% of residents who are above 18 years old.
Vaccinations have long surpassed the number of confirmed cases in the United States, which has totaled at around 28.4 million cases since the start of the pandemic. The latest figures also revealed that 25.5 million Americans have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna shot. The country has administered 96.4 million doses in total.
U.S. health officials expect that the supply of doses nationwide will ramp up heading into the spring with Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna increasing its production, and with Johnson & Johnson’s shot becoming the first single-dose vaccine to receive approval.
Johnson & Johnson will start distributing its COVID-19 vaccine this week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorization over the weekened.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, and New Mexico have administered doses at the quickest pace among all the 50 states.
Johnson & Johnson: First Single-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use for people 18 and above on February 28. United States regulators have approved a third COVID-19 vaccine, giving the U.S. another badly needed tool at a crucial time in this global pandemic.
Johnson & Johnson has started shipping around 4 million doses of its newly authorized COVID-19 vaccine across the United States, officials said Monday. They are expected to further scale up supply in the upcoming weeks and months. Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson’s CEO and chairman of the board, told NBC’s Today, “We think literally within about the next 24 to 48 hours, Americans should start receiving shots in arms.”
Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration signed off on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine over the weakened, making it the third to receive authorization in the United States. It’s also the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to receive the blessing of U.S. authorities and the only one that doesn’t require ultracold storage.
However, senior Biden administration officials warned Sunday that the supply of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 would be highly uneven for the next month. In an effort to lower expectations that the authorization of a third COVID-19 vaccine will mean a new steady stream of doses, officials said that the company will deliver 3.9 million shots this week, but none the next week. According to the officials, Johnson & Johnson will deliver another 16 million doses to the federal government by the end of March, but the majority of that will only come toward the end of the month.
However, while Johnson & Johnson’s addition COVID-19 vaccines will be limited at first, the company officials expect to scale up production in the coming months. Gorsky said the company is committed to delivering 100 million doses by June and ‘up to a billion’ by the end of 2021. Gorsky said, “When we say 100 million doses by June, that means 100 million vaccinations, patients that will have been treated. So, we’re excited. We’re going to work hard to make sure that we follow through on all those commitments. … We think it’s really important for our country and the world.”
Currently, Johnson & Johnson is looking for manufacturing partnerships to increase its supply of the COVID-19 vaccine. “We are doing everything we can partnering with the U.S. government and other external manufacturers to see what we can do to accelerate and increase that number as well,” Gorsky said.
In the U.S., Johnson & Johnson has contracted Emergent BioSolutions Inc. to manufacture its drug substance, and Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing Inc. and Catalent Inc. to fill its vials with the substance. The Financial Times reported Saturday that Catalent had to perform manual inspections after suffering a setback that could have affected U.S. delivery targets. Still, Gorsky is confident Johnson & Johnson will deliver on its future goals. “One of our facilities was literally a parking lot 12 months ago,” Gorsky said, “Today it’s one of the most advanced bio-pharmaceutical vaccine manufacturing facilities in the world. We’re learning along the way.”
“We’re leaving no stone unturned in terms of partnerships,” he said. “One of the most important lessons of the pandemic is the power of collaboration.”
Johnson & Johnson remains in active discussions with the U.S. government about exercising options for additional doses, Gorsky said. Globally, he sees it serving an important role, too.
FedEx shipping Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine
FedEx is now shipping a third COVID-19 vaccine, adding to the millions of doses that the company has delivered throughout the country.
In a news release on Monday, FedEx said that it has begun shipping the new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, adding that it’s, “prepared to scale up to accommodate anticipated growth in vaccine volume throughout the spring and summer.” The company has shipped millions of doses since distribution started in mid-December.
In a statement, Don Colleran, president and CEO for FedEx Express, said, “As vaccine production ramps up and more vaccines are approved, we expect to see a significant uptick in COVID-19 vaccine and supply kit volume moving through our network. As manufacturers obtain approval to ship COVID-19 vaccines with greater temperature ranges and varying dosing allotments, we anticipate more of these packages moving to more places through our global network.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine joins two others: one from Moderna and the other from Pfizer-BioNTech. On FedEx’s end, distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be handled like the Moderna vaccine. Doses will be shipped to healthcare giant McKesson’s centralized distribution centers. Then, when the U.S. government makes a vaccine and supply kit order to McKesson, most shipments are carried by UPS or FedEx from those centers to the specified location in one to two business days, per McKesson.
Isabel Rollison, FedEx spokesperson, said that like the Moderna vaccines, FedEx is picking up Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses from McKesson’s Olive Branch, Mississippi, facility and placing them into the FedEx network at the Express World Hub in Memphis. Then, the vaccines will be shipped with Priority Overnight delivery to dosing centers across the country.
Rollison said Monday that FedEx has transported nearly half of the 100 million vaccines distributed so far. The 10 million combined doses UPS and FedEx are handling each week is set to increase to 14 million this week, not including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, UPS Healthcare President Wes Wheeler told Bloomberg on Thursday.
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