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Pfizer pushes to speed up its vaccine delivery after J&J pause

Pfizer pushes to speed up its vaccine delivery after J&J pause
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Pfizer's CEO said Tuesday that the company has ramped up its vaccine production to deliver doses more quickly following a pause in distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Albert Bourla, Pfizer's CEO, tweeted that the company could complete an order of 300 million COVID-19 vaccines two weeks early following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier Tuesday urging states to halt distribution of the J&J vaccine.

Bourla wrote that his company is on pace to finish the order of 300 million doses it agreed to provide by the end of July two weeks early, adding it could provide 10 percent more than it originally agreed to by the end of May.

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".@Pfizer has ramped up production of our #COVID19 vaccine & can deliver 10% more doses to the US by the end of May than previously agreed (total of 220M) & supply the full 300M agreed on for the end of July two weeks early. In the fight against COVID-19, we’re in this together," he tweeted.

The CDC urged states to halt distribution of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose COVID-19 vaccine earlier Tuesday after six patients experienced blood clotting issues after taking the vaccine.

Millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have already been distributed across the U.S. It is one of three vaccines that have received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and Moderna's.

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Johnson & Johnson said in a statement Tuesday that it would delay the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine across Europe in response to the CDC's recommendation while advising that patients who experience symptoms including shortness of breath or severe headaches after getting vaccinated contact a health professional.

"We are aware of an extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets in a small number of individuals who have received our COVID-19 vaccine," Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

"We have been working closely with medical experts and health authorities, and we strongly support the open communication of this information to healthcare professionals and the public," the statement continued.

The CDC's recommendation came in response to six patients in the U.S., all women between the ages of 18 and 48, who experienced a "rare and severe type of blood clot" after taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Officials at the CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are planning to examine the cases, but have called for the vaccine's distribution to be halted in the meantime out of an abundance of caution.

The reason given for the pause despite the low number of reported instances of the clots was to allow doctors time to understand how to treat the potential side effects, according to the CDC and FDA.

"This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot," officials at the two agencies said in a joint statement Tuesday.

--Updated at 5:04 p.m.