As demand for Covid-19 vaccines declines across the country, unused doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine are piling up on U.S. shelves, leaving government officials increasingly concerned that the lack of a coordinated federal plan to redistribute them means hundreds of thousands, if not millions. , doses will go to the wind.
The accumulation of doses is largely the result of an order from the Food and Drug Administration in early April to stop the spread of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for safety reasons. Enthusiasm for the single-dose shot was suppressed after the 11-day break, according to government officials.
Government officials are aware that people in other countries are eager to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said Dr. Marcus Plesia, medical director of the Association of Public and Territorial Health Officials.
Plesia described the growing fear among its members that the doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines that are desired in the developing world could go to waste if no national effort is made.
“I think people feel ethically that you have other countries without vaccines and in serious condition,”
Lead councilor Andy Slavit said at a White House response team briefing on Tuesday that “a very small portion of the doses sent to the states” are at risk of leaking.
“It is unrealistic to expect that no dose will go to waste,” said Slavit, who has placed part of the responsibility for receiving unused doses in U.S. weapons.
“Remember that these doses are ordered by countries supplied by countries and must fall into the hands of the people, and we are working aggressively during this month of action and other steps to try to take them into arms,” he said. .
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Disease Monitoring data show that 21.4 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been distributed and slightly more than half, or 11.1 million, have been given.
West Virginia has 20,000 to 25,000 doses approaching its expiration date, said Dr. Clay Marsh, in response to the Covid-19 head of state.
“We’re working with the CDC, the White House and the State Department to see if it’s helpful to share these vaccines with others in and outside the United States,” said Marsh, vice president and executive dean of health sciences at the University of West Virginia.
So far, no central efforts have emerged.
“We know that coordinated and centralized efforts are needed, and even if we find these partners, navigating their supply chains and getting vaccines in the right places / people is not easy,” Marsh said in a text.
Slavit said on Tuesday that the FDA was considering how to extend the shelf life of the vaccine.
In countries like Ohio, the expiration date remains only after two weeks. Governor Mike DeWine’s office has set an approaching expiration date for 200,000 doses to encourage Ohio residents who have not been vaccinated to be vaccinated.
“For Ohio residents who have been waiting to get their vaccine, I urge you to take action now. There are many vaccine options across the state. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective and requires only one shot,” DeWine said in a statement.
The statement said civil servants felt they had no legal right to share or send doses abroad.
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the governor’s office, told NBC News: “We want these gunshots – that’s our top priority.”
Tierney said the governor’s office was in touch with the federal government about what he was allowed to do with the unused doses. Any redistribution effort would have to be sanctioned by federal authorities to be legal, Tierney said.
“The federal government controls where these vaccines go,” he said.
An opportunity in Haiti
In other countries, such as Haiti, with a population of 11 million, the number of cases is increasing and no vaccines have been given.
Racha Jehia, who works in public health for Care2Communities in Cap-Haïtien, said the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine makes the most sense. She said that based on her work, she expected Haitians to be resistant to vaccines and that encouraging them to return for repeated shots of other vaccines would be difficult.
“The second shot will be so difficult to convince people to come back and get it, and it will save so much money if they can provide that opportunity with one shot,” she said.
The government recently announced it would receive 130,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, which it had previously rejected, according to the Pan American Health Organization. PAHO spokesman Ashley Baldwin said the agency hoped to receive those doses to Haiti “soon” as soon as the shipment arrived in the country; refused to say when that would be.
In addition to the AstraZeneca vaccine, the country’s Ministry of Public Health, together with the international NGO Partners in Health and its local partners are working together to provide more doses to the country, said Elizabeth Kampa, director of development at Partners in Health. Haiti at the University of Global Health Equity.
Kampa said it was “treating more severe cases than last year.”