Merck to help in manufacturing Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Biden to announce

·2-min read
US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden

Washington [US], March 3 (ANI): US President Joe Biden is expected to announce that American drugmaker Merck will help in the manufacturing of a vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, CNN reported citing administration officials.

The arrangement between the two competitors is unusual and underscores the urgency in manufacturing and distributing enough vaccine doses to inoculate as many Americans as possible, CNN reported.

The United States has reported more than 28.7 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 514,000 reported deaths. The demand for vaccines still far exceeds supply and these vaccines can't come soon enough.

Biden will likely address the partnership during his remarks at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, hailing the partnership as a way to quickly jumpstart the sluggish vaccine production.

Biden has promised enough vaccine doses for 300 million Americans by the end of July, though he has also said distribution challenges mean it could be longer before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to receive one.

The White House said it was utilizing the Defense Production Act to help equip two Merck facilities to manufacture the Johnson & Johnson product, including by bolstering "fill-finish" capacity when the doses are placed in vials and by increasing availability of the components of the vaccines.

"Our objective is to build on the incredible announcement that we now have three vaccines the American people can now have access to," press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday ahead of Biden's remarks.

She said the process of bringing the two companies together was an "across-the-government" effort that came about after it became clear to administration officials that Johnson & Johnson would fall short of their manufacturing goals.

On Saturday, the Food and Drugs Administration announced that it had approved the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine for emergency use in the US in individuals 18 years of age and older.

The official emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) single-dose vaccine comes after an FDA advisory panel voted 22-0 to recommend authorization on Friday.

Biden had said the approval of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot coronavirus vaccine by the FDA is "exciting news" but warned Americans against letting their guard down as the situation could deteriorate. (ANI)