The White House COVID-19 response team said Friday that it is closely watching the FDA's pending decision on whether to formally recommend another COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use authorization.
Friday's briefing came as the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee discusses whether to grant authorization for Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. Following the meeting, the panel will hold a vote on a formal recommendation.
Should the VRBPAC recommend emergency use authorization, the CDC could grant final approval as soon as this weekend, meaning the vaccines could be distributed as early as next week.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci both said they were "excited" about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine's pending approval.
"We have three highly effective vaccines...this is good news," Fauci said.
Earlier this week, an FDA report found the vaccine to safe and effective.
While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not prevent COVID-19 infection at the same rate as vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna, it is still highly effective in preventing severe cases of the disease. Studies have shown that it is 85% effective in keeping patients out of the hospital, and 100% effective in preventing deaths linked to the virus.
Echoing comments he made earlier this week, Fauci warned Americans not to be choosy when it comes to which COVID-19 vaccine they receive.
"Right now, whatever vaccine is available to you, get that vaccine," Fauci said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine would also solve a number of logistical hurdles presented by Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccine. It does not require a second booster shot, meaning it can fully vaccinate double the amount of patients with half the supply. It also does not need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures like other COVID-19 vaccines, potentially saving on shipping costs.
The White House COVID-19 team briefing comes a day after President Joe Biden commemorated the 50 million doses of vaccine that had been distributed about five weeks into his term. Biden has set a goal of distributing 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in his first 100 days in office.
According to Bloomberg, the U.S. is still experiencing a lag in vaccine distribution caused by severe weather across the country earlier this week. The country is currently distributing an average 1.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine every day for the last week. At its peak, the U.S. was distributing an average of 1.7 million vaccines each day.