Johnson & Johnson plant pauses Covid vaccine production, report says

Syringes and a box of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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The only Johnson & Johnson facility currently making usable batches of the company’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine has temporarily halted its production, a new report said Tuesday.

The Netherlands-based plant has instead focused on making a different, possibly more profitable vaccine aimed at a different virus, The New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The pause in production at the Leiden facility, which began late last year, could reduce the supply of J & J’s Covid vaccine by hundreds of millions of doses, one of those people told the Times.

It is unclear whether vaccine supplies have been affected by the company’s move, according to the report. J&J is preparing to have the Leiden plant restart Covid vaccine production in March, the Times reported.

J&J spokesman Jake Sargent did not directly comment on the Times’ article. He told CNBC in a statement the company is “focused on ensuring our vaccine is available where people are in need,” and that it is fulfilling its obligations to the international groups trying to boost access to the Covid vaccine.

J&J is continuing to deliver batches of the vaccine materials to sites that bottle and package doses, and “we currently have millions of doses of our Covid-19 vaccine in inventory,” Sargent said.

“We are proud of the work of our many industry partners and the collaborations we have developed to produce our Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.

Polls show that many Americans have taken a skeptical eye toward the J&J Covid vaccine, which is the only one approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that requires just a single shot as a primary dose, versus the two-dose regimen of vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna.

The FDA last year recommended pausing the use of the J&J vaccine following a small number of reports of recipients developing rare blood clots. It was also found to be less effective against the deadly delta variant that emerged last year.

But several studies have shown the shot remains effective at preventing hospitalization and death from Covid, and a booster dose has been shown to be effective in protecting against severe illness from the highly transmissible omicron variant.

The J&J vaccine is also easier to transport and distribute, owing to the fact that it requires just one dose and can be stored without a freezer, providing protection for people who may otherwise be unable to get fully vaccinated.

Read the full report from The New York Times.

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