Covid vaccine makers step up delivery of doses for US

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Johnson & Johnson is expected to ship out an additional 11 million doses of its coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine next week, meeting its self-imposed goal of delivering 20 million doses by the end of the month, the White House said Friday.

Coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters the other two vaccine manufacturers – Pfizer and Moderna – also were on track to meet their March commitments.

“We’ve done a lot to help J&J, we’re monitoring that very closely, and we anticipate a significant increase at the end of this month, which will enable them to reach at least 20 million doses,” he said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single shot, so a single dose represents a fully vaccinated person. Pfizer and Moderna require two jabs.

As of Friday, 173.53 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been delivered, with 133.31 million doses administered. Some 87.34 million people – 26.3 percent of the U.S. population — have received at least one dose, while 47.42 million – 14.3 percent of the population – have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

President Joe Biden initially set a goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses by his 100th day in office. That goal was met last week, on the 58th day of his term.

During his first news conference since taking office Thursday, Biden upped the goal, announcing a plan to administer 200 million vaccine doses by his 100th day in office.

“I know it’s ambitious – twice our original goal – but no other country has come close … to what we’re doing,” he said.

Zients said he’s notified state and local leaders about the influx of new Johnson & Johnson supply. He blamed the initial slow delivery on the vaccine’s relatively recent approval.

Though U.S. Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations have come down since a peak in mid-January, task force members warned that numbers were still concerning.

The current seven-day average of 56,995 new cases is a 6.7-percent increase over the prior seven-day average of 53,433. The seven-day average of hospitalizations has increased by 0.1 percent over a week ago.

The seven-day average of deaths, 946, has decreased 8.2 percent over the past week.

“I remain deeply concerned about this trajectory,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters. “We have seen cases and hospital admissions move from historic declines to stagnation to increases.

“We know from prior surges that if we don’t control things now, there is a real potential of the epidemic curve to surge again.”

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