Wednesday, June 9th 2021
Millions of cans expire
USA in distress over shelf life of J&J vaccine
The US is producing and administering vaccines in a hurry, and 42 percent of the population is already fully protected. Now, however, the country threatens to be stuck on millions of doses of the J&J vaccine because the drug’s shelf life has expired.
The full-throttle vaccination campaign in the US could suffer a severe setback at the end of June. Hospitals, state health departments and the U.S. government itself are grappling with the decision on how millions of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine doses that expire this month could be used up. The report “Wall Street Journal” and “New York Times”. There are therefore few practical solutions to administer them quickly in the USA or to distribute them abroad in good time.
The million-fold supply is in part an unintended consequence of an April decision to temporarily suspend administration of J&J doses in the US to assess a rare risk of blood clots. The break forced states and providers to cancel a large number of vaccination appointments that were never rescheduled – this resulted in an excess supply. In addition, there is still a certain skepticism about the vaccine among the population.
Some hospitals and states said the newspapers said that Pfizer / Biontech SE and Moderna vaccines would not expire until later this summer and that supplies would largely consist of J&J doses so far. Pfizer’s vaccine expires six months after it is manufactured. Moderna’s vaccine can be frozen for up to six months – if it is to be used, it can be refrigerated for a month.
Between the lottery and shopping vouchers
Efforts to distribute the J&J vaccine across the country have had limited success. Reason: Overall vaccination in the US is slowing down and many states and vaccination centers themselves have a J&J oversupply. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just over half of the 21.4 million J&J doses shipped were administered, compared with 83 percent for Moderna and Biontech.
The Covid-19 vaccines come with expiration information determined by manufacturers based on test data. Manufacturers say vaccines could still work after the expiration date, but data were limited when the vaccines were approved. Accordingly, the US government now wants to check whether the J&J vaccine could remain frozen longer. In addition, aggressive bonus programs are increasingly promoting vaccinations. The offers range from lottery tickets and shopping vouchers to scholarships.
The Biden government would make itself vulnerable by wasting vaccines, as many developing countries are asking for help with procurement, but the US has shown little activity so far. Turning around at short notice and delivering the vaccine to developing countries on time, according to the reports, is a logistical hurdle. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, developing countries are cautious about using vaccines after their expiration dates and cannot give them quickly enough.