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Safety Concerns, Lower Demand Interrupts Use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Shot: Reuters

·2 min read
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Amid safety concerns about Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE: JNJ) COVID-19 vaccine, along with the weakening of demand for vaccinations, around half of 21 million doses produced for the U.S. is sitting unused, Reuters reported.

What Happened: J&J’s shot, being a single dose, was supposed to be an essential tool for reaching rural areas and vaccine-hesitant citizens.

It requires less stringent storage than the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) / BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) and Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA).

But Americans have largely opted to forgo the jab over the six weeks it has been back in use after a pause to study a rare safety issue, according to data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the week ended May 25, fewer than 650k Americans received the J&J shot, accounting for about 5% of total vaccinations administered and down from nearly 3 million in the week leading up to the pause, CDC data shows.

At least 13 lots of the vaccine have expiration dates of June 27 or earlier, according to a J&J website.

It is not clear how many doses reflect, but the vaccine has a 3-month shelf life, and most doses were sent out by early April, including 11 million in the first week.

J&J has another 100 million doses on hand, but shipment timing is uncertain.

A J&J spokesperson declined to comment on the number of doses expiring before the end of June.

Why It Matters: Public health officials said that during the halt, they found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were adequate substitutes in the mobile and walk-up clinics where they had been using J&J.

Not everyone has seen a sharp drop-off in demand for the J&J vaccine. Richard Stryker, who runs the Bayshore Pharmacy in Atlantic Highlands, N.J., said he had seen plenty of interest, particularly from seniors at lower risk for the clotting issue and prefer the single injection.

J&J has said it is not currently selling the vaccine for a profit. This year’s lower demand is immaterial to its financials, SVB Leerink analyst Danielle Antalffy said at the time of the safety pause.

Price Action: JNJ shares are down 0.49% at $165.16 during the market session on the last check Monday.

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