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Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Thursday that the FDA has authorized an extension of its COVID vaccine's shelf life from three months to 4.5 months.

Why it matters: Amid a slowdown in vaccine uptake, a number of state health officials had been sounding the alarm that hundreds of thousands of single-shot J&J doses could expire this month.

  • Prior to the FDA's extension, which the agency confirmed to Axios, J&J's vaccine could be stored at normal refrigeration temps for up to three months. Pfizer and Moderna's two-shot vaccines must be stored in colder temperatures, but can last for up to six months.
  • The extension is based on "data from ongoing stability assessment studies, which have demonstrated that the vaccine is stable at 4.5 months when refrigerated at temperatures of 36–46°F (2–8°C)," J&J said in a statement.

What they're saying: "A single-shot vaccine that provides protection and prevents hospitalization and death is an important tool in the global fight against COVID-19," J&J said.

  • "Evidence from our Phase 3 ENSEMBLE study demonstrates the efficacy of our single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, including against viral variants that are highly prevalent. Regardless of race and ethnicity, age, geographic location and comorbidities, these results remain consistent."
  • Vaccine providers should check the J&J website to confirm the vaccine's latest expiration dates, the company added.

The big picture: The authorization comes as COVID vaccine demand declines in the U.S., though it continues to skyrocket abroad.

  • In the U.S., over 10.1 million J&J doses have been delivered but not administered, according to CDC data.
  • President Biden has said he will send 20 million doses of COVID vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and J&J, to other countries by the end of June.

Go deeper

The global vaccine supply is finally opening up

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The global vaccine supply is finally opening up for countries that desperately need the ammo in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Driving the news: The Biden administration will buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to share with countries around the world, with the option to buy an additional 200 million.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Emergency room visits of all kinds dropped amid the pandemic — NY smart-thermometer network could predict next COVID wave.
  2. Vaccines: FDA clears 10 million J&J vaccine doses from contaminated Baltimore plant — Moderna asks FDA to expand COVID-19 vaccine authorization to adolescents.
  3. Cities: Seattle becomes first major city to get 70% fully vaccinated — Schools nationwide prepare for packed kindergartens this fall.
  4. Work: Goldman Sachs requires U.S. employees to report vaccination status.
  5. Politics: U.S. to buy 500 million Pfizer doses to share with the world — State Department eases travel advisories for dozens of countries.
  6. World: Moscow orders new restrictions amid surge in COVID-19 cases — 12 Venezuela players, staff contract COVID-19 before Copa America opener — 2021 already has a higher global coronavirus death toll than 2020.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Back to normal without herd immunity.
  8. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jun 10, 2021 - World

Biden admin to ship millions of COVID vaccines around the world from August

President Biden arriving at Cornwall Airport Newquay in Cornwall, England, on Thurday. Photo: Phil Noble/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration will ship the first batch of 500 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to 92 countries and the African Union from August, the White House announced Thursday morning.

Details: "200 million doses will be delivered by the end of this year and the remaining 300 million will be delivered in the first half of 2022," the White House said in a statement.