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‘Every vial is a patient’: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine manufactured locally

FDA advisory panel votes unanimously to recommend the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine be approved by the full FDA
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Posted at 5:35 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 20:53:20-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing is playing a vital role in the global effort to end the coronavirus pandemic. They’re manufacturing the vaccine for Johnson and Johnson, which a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted unanimously on Friday to recommend it be approved by the full FDA.

READ MORE: US advisers endorse single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from J&J

“You know the biggest thing is every vial is a patient,” said Steve Nole, vice president of operations. “That patient is somebody’s loved one, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

Nole said it’s all about saving lives. Even though studies have shown that Johnson & Johnson's efficacy rate isn’t as high as Pfizer's and Moderna's, their single-dose vaccine does prevent serious illness and death.

READ MORE: Health experts discuss people 'not wanting' Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to lower efficacy

“We feel like we’re definitely helping out and doing everything we can to help,” Nole said during an interview at GRAM. “You know GRAM in Michigan in general has kind of a humble mentality. But, we definitely feel like we fight above our weight class.”

And to stay in the fight, Nole said they're expanding, adding 100 new jobs. Manufacturing the vaccine has accelerated the process to fill those jobs.

Nole added that at this time they’re not allowed to release any information about the number of vials that have been produced or exactly when they’ll hit the market. However, now it's set to become the third vaccine approved to combat the virus. They have to get the CDC's final approval first, which may come by the end of the weekend.

“Hopefully soon the Johnson & Johnson product will also be released, and there’ll be more doses going to market at that time,” he said.

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