| 21 February 2024, Wednesday |

From game-changer to back-up: J&J’s COVID vaccine struggles in Europe

At the tallness of Europe’s antibody supply emergency in Walk, Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) single-dose COVID-19 immunization was touted as a game-changer. But two months into its rollout, the shot has the most reduced take-up of all four approved vaccines.

Supply issuessecurity concerns, progressed deliveries of rival vaccines and countries’ immunization methodologies have all played a portion in holding back usage.

Despite the shot’s clear logistical advantage of not requiring a booster, the European Union has only administered about half of the delivered doses – an uptake rate much lower than any rival COVID-19 vaccine, including AstraZeneca’s which has also been dogged by supply and safety issues.

That is bad news for J&J, and also raises questions about the efficiency of the EU’s inoculation campaign, as the bloc’s drugs regulator insists the shot can save lives.

Supply issues in specific have soured the disposition in Brussels, which has as of now chosen not to require up an alternative to arrange 100 million extra dosages of the J&J immunization, and has not however chosen whether to work out a moment one for another 100 million shots which slips at the end of June.

EU sources say that if ordered, the extra doses will most likely be donated to countries outside the bloc.

The shot has also struggled in the U.S. market.


Three months ago, the situation was very different.

“A single dose vaccine can make a difference in the speed of rollout,” EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said on March 11, the day J&J’s shot was approved for use in the EU.

At that time, the 27-nation bloc’s vaccination drive was struggling, largely due to big cuts in expected supplies from AstraZeneca. And the J&J shot, initially expected to arrive at the start of April, was seen as crucial to building momentum.

Despite a two-week delay in the rollout, EU officials were still upbeat. “The vaccine will massively accelerate the pace in the EU,” the bloc’s top lawmaker on health matters, Peter Liese, said on April 12.

But two months afterwardas it were almost 12 million dosages have been conveyed to the EU out of the 55 million anticipated by the conclusion of June. Generation issues at J&J subcontractor New driven the EU to deny around 20 million dosages this month, and the alliance does not expect J&J to meet conveyance targets.

Of the doses supplied, only about half – or around six million – have been administered, according to data from the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), the lowest uptake of the four COVID-19 shots approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

 By comparison, as of Tuesday, over 90% of the almost 250 million immunizations transported by Pfizer and its accomplice BioNTech have been managed, and about 85% of the over 30 million Moderna doses have been utilized.

Around 75% of AstraZeneca’s nearly 70 million delivered shots have also been injected into EU arms.

In France, the EU’s second most populous country, the uptake of J&J’s vaccine was half the bloc’s average – at just 22% of the delivered doses in mid-June, a French health ministry official said, whereas the utilisation rates for the Pfizer and Moderna shots were well above 80%, and over 60% for AstraZeneca.

The gap is even more striking when considering the stock of these two-dose vaccines needs to be managed carefully to ensure a second dose is available within the prescribed interval. Such precautions are not needed for the single-dose J&J vaccine.

A European Commission spokesperson declined to comment on the low uptake, while adding the Commission and governments were “for the moment of course disappointed with the numbers of deliveries, but they hope that these deliveries will increase over time.”

J&J has repeatedly said it will deliver the 200 million doses ordered by the EU, but has declined to comment on the second-quarter target and on the low uptake.


One reason for the low usage is that the J&J shot was briefly suspended, and has faced some restrictions, due to its links to very rare, but potentially fatal, blood clotting.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine has confronted comparative safety-related obstacles and stricter impediments on its utilize within the EU, but still incorporates a higher take-up.

However, AstraZeneca’s potential security issues developed as it were after it had been managed to numerous individuals in Europe, while J&J’s conceivable side-effects were known indeed some time recently its rollout on the landmass, after its sending within the Joined together States.

“There is no strategic reason for the low administration of this vaccine,” said Guido Rasi, former director of the EMA and currently adviser to the Italian government on the COVID-19 emergency.

He said one of the explanations for the low uptake was that J&J’s vaccine became available after other shots, when many of the most vulnerable people had already been inoculated, making its use less pressing.

Unexpectedly, the calculated advantage it offers may too have decreased its utilize, as specialists looked for to send it in more inaccessible locales with less people.

“Being a single-dose poke, it has been seen as ideal to manage it in places where it would be more tricky to manage the immunizations twice, such as islands and those parts of the nation that are more troublesome to reach,” Rasi said.

  • Reuters