The COVID vaccines are available with the U.S. set to hit the goal of 200 million doses administered on Thursday. Except one firm that was projected to play a vital role in that process remains sitting on the sidelines.
NBC News reported on Wednesday that the Trump administration granted a total of $1.3 billion to a Connecticut company to supply an essential syringe for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Except, no syringes have been made. And the factory promising 650 jobs in North Carolina remains unbuilt.
But it gets even worse, the ApiJect syringe has yet to be approved by federal regulators.
During the early months of the pandemic, ApiJect Systems Corp. promoted itself as a company ready to deliver critical lifesaving equipment to markets all across the country. However, with over 86 million U.S. adults fully vaccinated, the need for ApiJect’s syringe is dwindling and it puts their government issued contracts under direct scrutiny.
ApiJect released a statement in response to NBC’s report on Wednesday saying the news about the company was inaccurate.
“ApiJect does not make syringes. It makes a system capable of making prefilled syringes with the drug being filled at the same moment as the container in the prefilled syringe is formed.”
As for the factory in North Carolina, the company said they’re still in the process of construction and are seeking money to offset the costs.
“ApiJect is seeking a federal loan of $590 million to supplement $250 million in private sector capital commitments to build a factory in North Carolina capable of producing up to 3 billion single-dose, prefilled syringes annually — which, if FDA approved, can handle vaccines to battle the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and worldwide at very high speed with no foreign supply chain dependencies.”
“In saying the factory has not yet been built, NBC Digital News asks it readers to apply an “Alice in Wonderland” standard asserting that our factory should have been built before the funds necessary to construct it have been approved and provided and on an alternative universe timeline,” ApiJect added.
On the other side, NBC said officials from ApiJect told them they were “working with several vaccine pharmaceutical companies to conduct the testing and regulatory reviews of COVID-19 vaccines in the ApiJect syringe.”
“However, a spokesperson for one of the vaccine makers Pfizer, said that even if ApiJect’s syringe got all the necessary approvals from the Food and Drug Administration, it would “not have any impact on our output or process.” Moderna didn’t respond to a request for comment, and Johnson & Johnson declined to comment.”
For what it’s worth, ApiJect hasn’t lived up to their end of the deal. The Pentagon announced a contract with the firm last year and said they would provide “more than 100 million prefilled syringes for distribution across the United States by year-end 2020.”