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American drugmaker Johnson & Johnson temporarily halted production of its COVID vaccine at its plant in the Netherlands, the only one intended to produce and distribute it, which could reduce the supply of its formula by hundreds of millions of doses.
According to a report in The New York Times published Tuesday, the company paused production at the end of 2021 to focus on developing a formulation against another virus, unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the production pause would be for just over a month.
Johnson & Johnson’s formula, crucial for developing countries
In an email to the NYT, the drugmaker explained that it still has millions of doses ready to be distributed to places where demand and dependence on its formula is much higher, such as Africa and some low-income countries, where immunization with single-dose vaccines is prioritized.
Notably, in October Johnson & Johnson committed about 50 million vaccines to 40 countries through COVAX, the vaccine exchange initiative of the World Health Organization and the United Nations.
“We continue to meet our contractual obligations in connection with the Covax Fund and the African Union,” the company said to the NYT.
The NYT also reported that the company expressed intentions to reactivate three other manufacturing plants to produce its vaccine, including a facility in Baltimore that was shut down in April after failing to meet federal safety guidelines.