Merck to reportedly help make Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, which could 'sharply boost' supply

Johnson & Johnson
(Image credit: PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden's administration is reportedly set to unveil a "historic partnership" between Merck & Co. and Johnson & Johnson to manufacture the latter's COVID-19 vaccine.

Biden will announce on Tuesday that Merck will help make the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that recently received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration, a move that "could sharply boost the supply," The Washington Post reports.

"It’s a historic partnership," a Biden administration official told the Post, adding that the two competitors "recognize this is a wartime effort."

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Under the partnership, Merck will dedicate two U.S. facilities to the effort, with one making the actual vaccine and the other helping with the "last stage of the production process during which the vaccine substance is placed in vials and packaged for distribution," the Post explains. Still, the Post reports it could take months to get these facilities up and running. FDA approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was particularly anticipated because it only requires a single shot, unlike the previous two vaccines approved by the FDA.

The Biden administration reportedly took steps to broker such an agreement after it became clear that Johnson & Johnson was behind on vaccine production. The company has said it expects to have 20 million vaccine doses available by the end of March and 100 million by the end of June. Merck previously attempted to develop COVID-19 vaccines but had to abandon the effort due to inadequate immune responses.

Biden, according to CNN, is expected to discuss the partnership during remarks from the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

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