A shot for every American. Political leaders and vaccine manufacturers have endeavored to meet this goal since the start of the pandemic, and it could finally become a reality this summer.
An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration will vote Friday on whether to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus shot for emergency authorization. An FDA review on Wednesday showed the shot is safe and effective against COVID-19.
If J&J’s shot gets the green light as expected, it will be the third coronavirus shot to be distributed across the US. Vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been administered to more than 45 million Americans thus far, though fewer than 21 million Americans have gotten the full two-dose regimen.
Pfizer and Moderna have pledged to distribute 600 million doses to the US public by the end of July — enough to fully vaccinate 300 million people. J&J, meanwhile, has said it could deliver up to 100 million doses of its vaccine by the end of June.
That means that by the summer, the US would have more than enough doses to vaccinate all 332 million-plus Americans (though shots haven’t been authorized for children under 16 yet).
Here’s a timeline of how vaccinations could ramp up in the next five months:
- March 31: 240 million doses distributed
- May 31: 420 million doses distributed
- June 30: 500 million doses distributed
- July 31: 700 million doses distributed
Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are each more than 90% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, while J&J’s appears to be 66% effective at preventing moderate and severe cases. It’s difficult to compare the companies’ trials side-by-side, though, since they happened at different stages in the pandemic and in different geographic regions.
End of March: Wrapping up vaccinations for priority groups
J&J originally planned to deliver 12 million doses by the end of February. But federal officials have said that just 3 to 4 million doses would be immediately available next week, assuming the FDA authorizes the shot.
By the end of March, the company will likely have produced 20 million doses, Richard Nettles, J&J’s vice president of US medical affairs, said at a House committee hearing on Tuesday.
Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus czar, called the slow pace of J&J’s manufacturing “disappointing” on Wednesday. But the government has started helping the company procure equipment and raw materials, he said, which is accelerating the pace.
Pfizer and Moderna, meanwhile, are on track to distribute a cumulative 220 million doses by March 31.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Pfizer’s chief business officer, John Young, said the company intends to make 120 million doses available by the end of March (including the roughly 40 million doses shipped so far). Moderna’s president, Stephen Hoge, said the company would deliver 100 million doses (including 54 million that have gone out already) within the same time frame.
That means the US could finish vaccinating priority groups — including the elderly, essential workers, and people with high-risk medical conditions — next month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that these groups encompass roughly 200 million people.
End of May: The general population gets its shots
In total, all three pharmaceutical companies are expected to deliver around 420 million doses by the end of May. Vaccinations for the…