U.S. poised to have 3M vaccine doses available per day by April

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The United States is on track to have three million coronavirus vaccine doses per day available by April, according to numbers shared by major manufacturers in a congressional hearing Tuesday.

Vaccine providers including Pfizer and Moderna, makers of already authorized shots, appeared before a House panel just before an influx of shots could arrive in federal coffers. Pfizer said Tuesday that it can bump supplies from four to five million shots a week currently to 13 million doses per week by mid-March, while Moderna said it can double its supplies to provide more than 40 million doses per month by April.

That could roughly double the pace of vaccination from roughly 1.5 million shots per day now.

Those figures do not factor in potential doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which FDA is expected to authorize as early as this weekend. The company said it can deliver 20 million doses of its vaccine — which is given as a single shot, unlike Moderna and Pfizer’s two-dose regimens — by the end of March.

While there were reports last month that manufacturing snags could delay J&J’s early shipments, Richard Nettles, vice president of medical affairs for the company’s Janssen pharmaceutical unit, told the House panel that nearly four million doses will be ready to ship when the vaccine is authorized for use.

AstraZeneca and Novavax, the other vaccine makers whose executives appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, have not filed for FDA review yet — but they are also stockpiling shots in preparation for rollout.

All of the executives stressed that they are looking for ways to increase production to meet the overwhelming demand from the largest global vaccination campaign in history.

“We understand the significant interest in Moderna’s vaccine, along with the vaccines and vaccine candidates of other companies,” said Moderna President Stephen Hoge. “We also understand how important it is that large quantities of every approved vaccine be produced rapidly…and that vaccines be made available widely, transparently, and equitably.”

President Joe Biden has pledged to administer 100 million doses in his first 100 days, a goal that advisers say is achievable by administering more than one million doses a day — a mark that the country has already exceeded. The administration should aim even higher, said Energy and Commerce ranking Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers, calling on the White House to shoot for two million every day.

Biden has also said repeatedly that every American who wants to be vaccinated should be able to by July.

Vaccine makers also discussed the rising threat of different coronavirus strains such as B.1.315, the variant first found in South Africa that appears to be less susceptible to some vaccines.

Moderna is beginning trials with the National Institutes of Health for a booster shot aimed at that strain. Pfizer is in discussions with the FDA about clinical study designs to test updated versions of its own vaccine against emerging variants, Chief Business Officer John Young said.

Novavax, which just completed U.S. trial enrollment this week for its broad Phase III trial, “is already aggressively working on a strategy to provide the broadest coverage,” said John Trizzino, chief commercial and chief business officer. He added that the company’s technology and manufacturing process make it easy to edit and scale up modified vaccines.

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