(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson late last year quietly shut down the only plant making usable batches of its COVID-19 vaccine, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the decision.

The halt is temporary, with the Leiden plant expected to start making the vaccine again after a few months, the NYT report said https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/08/business/johnson-johnson-covid-vaccine.html. The paper added it was not clear whether the pause has had an impact on vaccine supplies yet, thanks to stockpiles.

The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The facility, in the Dutch city of Leiden, has instead been making an experimental but potentially more profitable vaccine to protect against an unrelated virus, according to the report.

The drugmaker last month forecast as much as $3.5 billion in sales of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2022, a 46% jump, having fared poorly compared to rivals.

The company reported sales of $2.39 billion for the COVID shot in 2021, missing its own target of $2.5 billion, in a year marked by manufacturing stumbles, safety concerns and uneven demand for a vaccine once touted as a promising tool for inoculating populations in hard-to-reach areas.

With the Leiden plant temporarily unavailable, it could reduce the supply of the J&J vaccine by a few hundred million doses, the NYT report said, citing one of the people familiar with the decision.

Other facilities have been hired to manufacture the vaccine but they are either not up and running yet or have not received regulatory approval to make the shot, the report added.

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Krishna Chandra Eluri)