Merck to Help J&J Make Its Covid-19 Vaccine, Biden to Announce--Update
By Sabrina Siddiqui and Tarini Parti
Merck & Co. will help produce Johnson & Johnson's
single-dose Covid-19 vaccine, President Biden plans to announce
later Tuesday, as the administration pushes to get the shot to the
American public at a faster pace.
The president is expected to make the announcement while giving
an update on the pandemic Tuesday afternoon, administration
officials said. The assistance from Merck, usually a competitor to
Johnson & Johnson, will help speed up production after the
one-shot vaccine was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration
J&J declined to comment. In a statement Tuesday, a spokesman
for Merck said the company "remains steadfast in our commitment to
contribute to the global response to the pandemic and to preparing
to address future pandemics."
U.S. regulators cleared J&J's vaccine -- the third to
receive approval -- for use, but initial supplies are limited as
the company continues to increase manufacturing efforts. The New
Brunswick, N.J.-based firm had made nearly four million doses for
initial shipments that began going out this week. The Biden
administration said it expected about 20 million doses to be
delivered by the end of March.
Merck, a Kenilworth, N.J. firm, is a pioneer in vaccines, such
as those to prevent mumps and shingles, but has been on the
sidelines of the Covid-19 vaccine race since scrapping two programs
in January after disappointing clinical studies. Merck was also
slower to pursue Covid-19 vaccines, The Wall Street Journal
reported last year.
The partnership between J&J and Merck would mark the latest
example of pharmaceutical rivals working together to make Covid-19
vaccines. Sanofi SA and Novartis AG are helping to make the shot
from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
The move comes as Mr. Biden's administration has underscored the
urgency of vaccinating the public against Covid-19 and warned of a
new and more transmissible variant that is rapidly spreading across
White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Monday that
the administration had begun distributing 3.9 million doses of the
J&J vaccine to states, tribes and territories, as well as to
pharmacies and community health centers. Mr. Zients said the
company had communicated to the administration that supply "will be
limited for the next couple of weeks" after the initial
distribution but expected to deliver additional doses by the end of
Write to Sabrina Siddiqui at Sabrina.Siddiqui@wsj.com and Tarini
Parti at Tarini.Parti@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 02, 2021 09:39 ET (14:39 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.