Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday it had submitted data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of a booster shot of its Covid-19 vaccine in people ages 18 years and older.
While scientists are divided over the need for booster shots when so many people in the United States and other countries remain unvaccinated, the Biden administration announced the push for an extra dose in August as part of an effort to shore up protection against the highly transmissible delta variant.
Over 15 million Americans have received Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, which is administered as a single dose, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The vaccine maker last month said an additional second shot of its vaccine given about two months after the first increased its effectiveness to 94 percent, compared with 70 percent protection with the single dose.
On Friday, NBC News reported that hundreds of thousands of unused Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses were possibly at risk of expiring because the FDA will not further extend the shelf life of the shots. It's unclear how many Johnson & Johnson doses could be wasted, but the federal government has shipped 22 million doses to states and only 15 million have been administered so far, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most states stopped ordering new Johnson & Johnson shots a few months ago and demand for the shot has not been strong, according to state health officials.
The FDA has already authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those 65 and older, people at high risk of severe disease and others who are regularly exposed to the virus.
Rival Moderna also submitted its application seeking authorization for a booster shot of its two-dose vaccine last month and FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee panel will hold a meeting on Oct. 14 to discuss the additional dose.