J&J puts a brave face on Covid-19 vaccine stumbles

After a rough week, Johnson & Johnson avoided the worst-case scenario with its Covid-19 vaccine, JNJ-78436735, in Europe. The EMA said today that there was a “possible link” to rare blood clots, but concluded that the benefits of the jab outweighed its risks. J&J’s chief scientific officer, Paul Stoffels, said during an earnings call today that the company “stands ready” to resume shipments of the vaccine in Europe, and talked about restoring confidence in its shot. The group will no doubt hope for a similar outcome from the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is meeting again on Friday; an initial meeting, convened after the FDA paused use of JNJ-78436735 following cases of rare blood clots, delayed making a decision. Still, this is not J&J’s only problem: yesterday, it emerged that the FDA had told J&J’s partner Emergent Biosciences to stop manufacturing the vaccine at one of its plants, following a case of contamination in March. Today, J&J execs said they hoped to close the inspection this week, but it was premature to speculate on how this might hit vaccine delivery. J&J reported $100m sales of the vaccine during the first quarter of 2021.

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