BOSTON (WHDH) - After the US marked a grim milestone surpassing half a million COVID-19 related deaths, drug companies announced they would be ramping up production and extending their supply of vaccines.

Pfizer plans on increasing the number of doses available for shipping each week from an average of 4 to 5 million to more than 13 million in the coming weeks.

Johnson & Johnson officials say they are ready to jump into the race for a vaccine.

Advisers are set the meet this week to discuss whether to recommend their one-shot version for emergency use authorization.

“What we really need now is we really need to accelerate the vaccine rollout in the united states and throughout the world,” said Dr. Dan Barouch, Director, Beth Israel Center for Virology and Vaccine Research

Barouch and his team partnered with Johnson & Johnson to develop and test the new vaccine. He says that having another option is critical.

This is the third shot under consideration in the US and if approved it will be the first single-dose shot available here.

“There are many advantages of a single-shot vaccine — essentially once and done. It’s convenience, compliance,” Barouch said. “Some people have an aversion to needles.”

Like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson one was developed at a breakneck pace. On Monday, the White House said it had not made any plans yet for distributing the vaccine if authorized.

“They’re not going to have a lot of doses on the first day. It’ll likely be relatively few, which will then scale up a lot more,” Infectious Disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

The company disclosed more about its plans for distribution ahead of a congressional hearing on Tuesday. A major draw to this version is that it does not need to be stored or transported at sub-zero temperatures.

“We will have 20 million doses of the vaccine to be made available in March and we’re prepared to ship immediately upon emergency use authorization nearly 4 million doses of our vaccine,” Vice President of Medical Affairs for Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies Dr. Richard Nettles said.

At Beth Israel, Dr. Barouch says Johnson & Johnson is planning to provide at least 100 million vaccines to the US by June.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to reflect on that. There will be time for that in the future, but for now, we want to see this vaccine being rolled out if approval is granted. and we want this vaccine to save lives.”



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