Reuters: Johnson and Johnson facing challenges with vaccine delivery to EU
Brussels – Johnson & Johnson has told the European Union (EU) it is facing supply issues that may complicate plans to deliver 55 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the bloc in the second quarter of the year, an EU official told Reuters.
Any delay would be a further blow to EU’s vaccination plans, which have been hampered by bumpy supplies from other vaccine makers and a slow rollout of shots in many member states.
J&J told the EU last week that issues with the supply of vaccine ingredients and equipment meant it was “under stress” to meet the goal of delivering 55 million doses by the end of June, the EU official – who is directly involved in confidential talks with the US company – told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The official added the company had said it was not impossible to meet the goal, but that it showed caution.
J&J’s vaccine, which requires only one dose for protection, is expected to be approved on March 11 for use in the EU by the bloc’s regulator. EU officials have said deliveries could start in April.
The company has committed to deliver 200 million doses of its vaccine to the bloc this year.
“Aligned with our agreement, we expect to begin supplying our commitment of 200 million doses to the European Union in the second quarter of 2021,” J&J said in a statement, declining to comment on possible delays or the second-quarter target.
J&J began rolling out its vaccine in the United States this month, with a target of delivering 100 million doses by the end of May, but has nearly halved its delivery forecasts for March to 20 million doses as it ramps up new manufacturing facilities.
A spokesman for the European Commission declined to comment on J&J’s delivery schedules. The Commission coordinates EU talks with vaccine makers and has come under fire for its role in a vaccination strategy that has so far lagged behind those in Britain and the United States.
An internal document from the German health ministry dated February 22, and a schedule published by the Italian health ministry on March 3, confirm that under the EU contract J&J had committed to delivering around 55 million doses in the second quarter.
That includes about ten million to Germany and 7.3 million to Italy. Supplies are expected to double in the third quarter, the two schedules show. (Reuters)