TOPLINE: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has extended the shelf life of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose Covid-19 vaccine from four-and-a-half months to six months, the drugmaker announced on Thursday, a decision that comes at a time when several health officials expressed concerns about vaccine doses expiring and going to waste.
According to a press release by Johnson & Johnson, the FDA’s decision was based on data from ongoing studies that showed the vaccine remains stable when refrigerated at 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a letter sent to the company, the FDA noted that the extension will apply to batches that might have expired prior to the issuance of the order as long as they were stored at the requisite temperature.
The company will update the expiry dates of its batches on its website, which vaccine providers can use as a reference.
The move will provide health workers six additional weeks to administer millions of doses of the single-shot vaccine.
The FDA had previously extended the J&J vaccine’s shelf life from three months to four-and-half months in June.
49.3%. That’s the total percentage of people in the U.S. who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. Among U.S. adults, 69.3% of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Unlike the two mRNA Covid-19 vaccines—made by Moderna and Pfizer—J&J’s vaccine is administered as a single shot and can be stored in normal refrigeration temperatures. This means that the vaccine can be easily transported and administered in rural and isolated parts of the country where healthcare infrastructure may be limited. According to the CDC, more than 13 million people in the U.S. have received the one-shot vaccine. In comparison, more than 87 million people have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 63 million have received two jabs of the Moderna vaccine.
US extends expiration dates on J&J COVID vaccine to 6 months (Associated Press)
J&J vaccine shelf life extended to six months by F.D.A. (New York Times)
By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff