Johnson & Johnson scale back COVID-19 vaccination production
US-based Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has begun scaling back production of its COVID-19 vaccine due to demand falling over the past few months. As part of this, it's started terminating manufacturing agreements with companies who helped it produce the vaccine, such as Catalent and Sanofi.
J&J’s shot was welcomed by health authorities due to its fewer cold-chain storage requirements. However, manufacturing issues meant J&J suffered availability problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 19 million doses of J&J’s vaccine were administered, compared to around 400 million of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot and approximately 250 million doses of the Moderna one.
There was also a safety risk involving the rare but serious blood-clotting issue, which led to J&J’s initial one-dose shot being age-restricted in some countries.
Prashant Yadav, a supply-chain expert and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a think tank focused on cutting poverty, commented: “They were trying to do this the best way possible to meet global demand, but all of those plans fell apart.”
There are currently hundreds of millions of remnant J&J doses, meaning the vaccine will still be available where it is needed. J&J has not commented to whether it will cease manufacturing the vaccine altogether, though, following the scale-back.
Joe Wolk, CFO at J&J stated: “Right now, we are, like we would do for any product, right-sizing our manufacturing footprint, our R&D programmes, to correlate better with the demand that’sout there. We’re going to meet our regulatory, as well as our commercial, commitment and just right-sizing it for […] the business prospects that are out there.”
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