Johnson & Johnson to take over manufacturing of its vaccine at Baltimore plant that had to destroy 15 million doses last week over a production mishap
The U.S. COVID-19 vaccine program continues to kick into high gear, setting a record Saturday of more than four million doses administered, although experts continue to urge Americans to stick with safety measures and wear face masks in public and socially distance.
The vaccine program averaged 3 million doses a day in the last week, according to Cyrus Shahpar, COVID-19 data director on the White House Response Team.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker is showing that as of 6 a.m. ET Sunday, 207.9 million doses had been delivered to states, 165 million doses had been administered and 106.2 million Americans had received at least one dose, equal to 32% of the population.
By now, 61.4 million Americans are fully vaccinated, meaning they have received two shots of the two-dose vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc. and German partner BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc., or one of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine. That’s equal to 18.5% of the population.
In the 65 years-and-older group, 29.9 million people are fully vaccinated, more than half — 54.8% — of that population.
Johnson & Johnson said it would take over manufacturing of its vaccine at a Baltimore plant run by Emergent BioSolutions Inc., where a batch of 15 million doses had to be scrapped last week after a production problem involving workers confusing components of the J&J vaccine with ones intended for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Oxford University, according to media reports.
The Emergent plant hadn’t yet been cleared by regulators when J&J discovered the quality problem during a routine inspection, and none of the batch had been shipped for use to make vaccines.
Emergent said Monday it will move manufacturing of the AstraZeneca vaccine elsewhere. J&J will take over the making of its vaccine and will install a new leadership team and technical, quality and other personnel.
The U.S. is unlikely to face a “true” fourth wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, but the country should wait a few weeks longer before easing mitigation efforts, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Sunday, as MarketWatch’s Mike Murphy reported.
Speaking to CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Gottlieb acknowledged that young people were driving new coronavirus outbreaks in many states, but that vaccination efforts should prevent another devastating surge of the virus.
The U.S. added at least 36,670 new cases on Sunday, according to a New York Times tracker, and at least 277 people died. Those numbers may be underreported given reduced staffing at hospitals at weekends. The U.S. has averaged 64,019 cases a day in the past week, up 18% from the average two weeks earlier.
COVID-19 cases are rising in 27 states and the District of Columbia, with more outbreaks seen as schools reopen.
“The infection is changing its contours in terms of who’s being stricken by it right now,” Gottlieb said, according to a CBS News transcript.
“I think we need to stick to strict mitigation in the schools,” Gottlieb told CBS News, adding that maintaining mask requirements and social-distancing measures are crucial, to avoid intermingling in large groups. “If you’re taking those measures in schools, I think the schools can be made more safe, and I think the benefits of being in school outweigh the risks.”