Gov. Ron DeSantis is eager to get his hands on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Thus far, Florida has battled the highly contagious virus with only two two-dose vaccines in its arsenal. Those vaccines — by Pfizer and Moderna — demand extraordinary storage requirements, further complicating the state’s inoculation effort.
Yet speaking at a nursing home in Jacksonville on Monday, DeSantis spoke optimistically about the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“It’s supply-dependent, it’s approval-dependent,” DeSantis said. “But I’m actually optimistic. The more and more I hear about the J and J.”
Since the pandemic’s onset, governors nationwide have held their breath in anticipation of a vaccine. But as the United States enters the seventh week of its rollout, the federal distribution effort remains sluggish.
States are operating with limited supplies, forcing them to narrow eligibility among vaccine-seekers.
DeSantis has contended that the state has the capacity to vaccinate more residents; he simply needs more doses.
“There’s just no easy way to get everyone done right off the bat,” DeSantis noted. “It’s a process where we got to wait to get more and then we do more.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine could boost the state’s vaccine rollout if approved by the Food and Drug Administration. If given the green light, DeSantis hypothesized the one-dose vaccine could reach Florida’s shores by the end of February.
DeSantis stopped short of forecasting how many Johnson & Johnson doses Florida may receive, but he suggested it may broaden Florida’s vaccine eligibility list.
“Let’s say they have 25 million on day one,” DeSantis said. “Florida would get a decent chunk of that, and we would be able to get that out to school districts to police departments, and to some of the places where I know a lot of folks are interested in getting it, so we want to do that.”
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci leads the nation’s COVID-19 response.
Speaking on Rachel Maddow‘s MSNBC show, Fauci on Friday said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could score emergency approval in as few as two weeks.
“I would be surprised if it was any more than two weeks from now that the data will be analyzed and decisions would be made,” Fauci said.
FDA approval would make Johnson & Johnson the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. What’s more, it is without stringent storage requirements.
Fauci said the U.S. government is also working with pharmaceutical companies on six other vaccine alternatives.