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White House says U.S. is working to accelerate doses of Pfizer, Moderna Covid vaccines


RN Courtney Senechal unpacks a special refrigerated box of Moderna Covid-19 vaccines as she prepared to ready more supply for use at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) in Boston, Massachusetts on December 24, 2020.

Joseph Prezioso | AFP | Getty Images

The Biden administration is working to accelerate doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines after U.S. health officials advised states to hold off on using Johnson & Johnson‘s shot while regulators investigate a rare blood-clotting issue, a top U.S. official said Wednesday.

Jeff Zients, the White House’s Covid-19 coordinator, said the Food and Drug Administration’s recommended pause on J&J’s vaccine would not have a “significant impact” on the administration’s vaccination program. On Tuesday, the FDA asked states to temporarily halt using J&J’s vaccine “out of an abundance of caution” after six women developed a rare, but serious, blood clotting disorder that left one dead and another in critical condition.

Some medical experts and former health officials worried halting the use of the single-shot vaccine would disrupt the nation’s massive vaccine campaign.

Zients said the J&J vaccine only makes up 5% of the recorded shots in arms in the U.S. to date. Still, the U.S. government is “doing everything we can to accelerate the delivery” of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as officials work to end the pandemic, he told reporters during a White House press briefing Wednesday.

The administration currently has deals with Pfizer and Moderna for 600 million doses combined, enough to inoculate 300 million Americans since those two vaccines require two shots given three to four weeks apart.

Zients comments come a day after Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that his company has ramped up production of its two-shot vaccine and will be able to deliver 10% more doses to the U.S. by the end of May than it had previously agreed to produce — up to 220 million from 200 million.

The ramped-up production is important as some states, such as New York, said they will use Pfizer’s vaccine in place of the J&J shot for appointments that had already been scheduled.

Zients also said Moderna has indicated it is on track to meet its commitment for 300 million doses.

-CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.

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