Biden to Announce Johnson & Johnson Will Get Aid from Rival Merck to Produce Vaccine

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Anna Moneymaker/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11766927y)US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a virtual event hosted by the Munich Security Conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA on 19 February 2021.
Anna Moneymaker/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock / Anna Moneymaker/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

President Biden will announce today that Merck will help rival Johnson & Johnson produce its newly approved COVID vaccine to speed up distribution.

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Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine was granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration Saturday. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, the Janssen Biotech Inc. COVID-19 Vaccine, is the third to be granted an EUA and the first one requiring only one dose, facilitating and accelerating distribution amid a rollout that has been less than seamless.

In addition, in comparison with Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines, it is relatively easy to store, as it can be stored for 3 months at normal refrigerator temperatures of 36 degrees Fahrenheit to 46 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius to 8 degrees Celsius) and has a two-year shelf life when frozen at minus-13 degrees Fahrenheit to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-25 degrees Celsius to minus-15 degrees Celsius), according to the documents.

“This milestone follows a year of incredible work by our dedicated teams and unprecedented collaboration with health leaders around the world — all of whom shared a goal of bringing a single-shot vaccine to the public,” Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO at Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement. “We will do everything we can to help bring this pandemic to an end, in the United States and throughout the world.”

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In Saturday’s statement, Johnson & Johnson said that it will start shipping the vaccine immediately, “delivering more than 20 million doses to the U.S. in March, 100 million doses in the first half of 2021.”

In a statement on Tuesday, a Merck spokesman said the company “remains steadfast in our commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemic and to preparing to address future pandemics,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

In a briefing yesterday, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said that for the last several weeks, the administration has been working with governors, state and local health officials and pharmacies and community health centers “to ensure we were ready to roll out the J&J vaccine immediately after FDA approval and CDC recommendations.”

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“Starting yesterday, we began executing on our plans by distributing 3.9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson to states, tribes and territories, and also to pharmacies and community health centers,” Zients said. He added that the administration is allocating the J&J vaccine the exact same way it allocates Pfizer and Moderna vaccines: proportionately, according to the population of the state, tribe or territory.

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“So, for example, if a state represents 2% of the U.S. population, it receives approximately 2% of the Pfizer allocation, 2% of the Moderna allocation and will now receive 2% of the J&J allocation that is made to states, tribes and territories,” Zients said.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a former full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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