Merck Will Help Johnson & Johnson Manufacture Vaccine

Ralph Ellis

March 02, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

President Biden will announce Tuesday that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help manufacture Johnson & Johnson 's single-shot coronavirus vaccine, the Washington Post reported, citing senior administration officials.

The collaboration between the two rivals, which was brokered by the Biden administration, is expected to greatly increase the amount of vaccine available in the United States.

The Post said Merck will dedicate two U.S. facilities toward the J&J vaccine. One facility will make the actual vaccine and the other will provide "fill-finish" services, in which the vaccine is placed in vials and packaged for distribution.

The J&J vaccine has the advantage of only requiring one shot, plus the vaccine does not need to be stored in extremely cold temperatures, as the two-shot Pfizer and Modera vaccines do.

The sources told the Post that the administration will use the Defense Production Act to help Merck secure equipment to upgrade its facilities.

Merck was trying to come up with its own coronavirus vaccine but discontinued work on Jan. 25, the company said in a news release.

The J&J vaccine was granted emergency use authorization on Saturday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said the company planned to immediately ship 3.9 million doses. The company is scheduled to deliver 16 million doses by the end of March and 100 million doses by July 1.

The CDC says 96.4 million doses of vaccine have been shipped and 76.8 million doses have been administered. About 25.4 million people have received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

Sources

WaPo. "Biden to announce 'historic partnership': Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, officials say"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/03/02/merck-johnson-and-johnson-covid-vaccine-partnership/

Merck. "Merck Discontinues Development of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates; Continues Development of Two Investigational Therapeutic Candidates"

https://www.merck.com/news/merck-discontinues-development-of-sars-cov-2-covid-19-vaccine-candidates-continues-development-of-two-investigational-therapeutic-candidates/

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