Massachusetts has yet to receive word of any delay in an anticipated shipment of the Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine since the company announced they tossed a batch Wednesday, according to Gov. Charlie Baker's office.
Johnson and Johnson said their "quality control" process identified a batch of their vaccine that did not meet their standards, and it had to be discarded.
The pharmaceutical company did not say how large the single batch was, but the New York Times reported 15 million doses have been ruined. That's enough shots to vaccinate all of New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia combined.
It's a massive blow for the company, and many are wondering if it could affect residents in Massachusetts waiting for a vaccine appointment.
"Especially with the cases rising in Massachusetts and in the northeast, we really needed some relief in the form of being able to ramp up vaccination," said epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron, of Tufts Medical Center.
The one-dose vaccine is considered a game changer, speeding up the vaccination process.
Before the news broke on Wednesday, Baker announced more than 100,000 doses of J&J's vaccine were coming to Massachusetts next week.
During a press conference on housing security in Quincy, Baker said the shipments would be "definitely north of" 100,000 doses and part of 10 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses expected to distributed across the country by the Biden administration next week.
"I can't tell you how important that is," Baker said, stressing that because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose, it helps streamline the vaccination process. "It basically doubles the capacity that is available, but in addition to that, the speed with which somebody actually comes to get vaccinated."
A spokeswoman for the state's COVID-19 command center, Kate Reilly, says they have not received any notice of delay in their shipment, adding it does not impact current appointments.
Reilly says they are prepared to work with the federal government to avoid any disruption in vaccine shipments.
"This is really disturbing," said Nada Sanders, who teaches supply chain management at Northeastern University.
Sanders says think of this like what happened at the Suez Canal, where one major error backs up the flow of Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
"I think if I was managing any of the states, I would really immediately rethink the allocations that we currently have because we simply don't know how long this is going to last," she said.
Dr. Doron says another question is how will this affect vaccine confidence?
"I hope that doesn't make people concerned about the safety of the vaccination," she said. "It is so important for everyone to be vaccinated when it's their turn."
COVID-19 in Massachusetts
With rising hospitalizations and case rates in the Bay State, how does this impact a potential fourth surge? Doron says timing is important here. We are simply not vaccinating fast enough, our supply is too small, and this does not help, she said.
Two weeks ago when Baker announced the timeline of the vaccine, he said it was because of assurances he was getting from the feds specifically on the J&J vaccine.