CORONAVIRUS VACCINE

Coronavirus US: How many J&J doses will Biden order for the country?

The US has increased its vaccine order as Biden looks to open up vaccinations to all adults by May. The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the latest to be approved.

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Coronavirus US: How many J&J doses will Biden order for the country?
MARIO TAMA AFP

President Joe Biden has announced that the United States will order an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s covid-19 vaccine. The shot, the third to be approved for use by the FDA, requires just a single dose to be effective, making it a more attractive option than the two-dose alternatives from other manufacturers.

The news was announced the day before Biden officially signed the American Rescue Plan into law, which he hopes will provide a boost in funding and impetus for the vaccine rollout. In a White House speech on Thursday evening the President outlined plans to have the US return to some semblance of normality by 4 July.

Pharmaceutical companies will work together to satisfy huge vaccine demand

The order for an extra 100 million doses comes after J&J had struggled with production issues since it was granted emergency use approval in February. In that time the manufacturer has only supplied around 4 million doses to the US government.

However Biden held a White House meeting between J&J CEO Alex Gorsky and Ken Frazier, CEO of rival pharmaceutical company Merck, which finalised a deal for the two to work together on vaccine production.

The extra 100 million doses provided by the J&J – Merck coalition brings the total number of vaccine shots ordered by the US to 800 million doses. The life-saving shots are produced by three different manufacturers to avoid an overreliance on a single company or pharmaceutical.

Speaking after announcing the deal, Biden told reporters: "There's always a chance that we'll encounter unexpected challenges, or will there be a new need… A lot can happen, a lot can change. And we need to be prepared."

Biden outlines vaccination plan in White House speech

It’s been a busy few days for the Biden administration and less than 24 hours after announcing the new vaccine order he signed the stimulus bill into law in the Oval Office. Much of the $1.9 trillion package directly addresses the public health crisis, with billions going towards the vaccination effort.

Biden reflected on the pace of progress in a White House speech on Thursday evening in which he announced that the US will exceed his pre-election target of administering 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. The US is now scheduled to hit that marker within his first 60 days.

The weekly rate of vaccination has more than doubled since he took office, with the daily number of vaccinations expected to exceed 2 million in the coming weeks. He has also set states the target of removing all vaccine eligibility requirements for adults by 1 May, meaning that anyone will be able to receive a vaccine.

What does all this mean? Biden was eager to stress that the future is still unknown but said that if the American people follow the guidelines and the vaccine roll-out continues in the same vein, it may be safe for people to host gatherings for Independence Day on 4 July 2021.