The Strategist

Merck & Co joins Johnson & Johnson in COVID-19 vaccine production

03/03/2021 - 02:37

According to US TV channel NBC, US drugmaker Merck & Co will help Johnson & Johnson produce its COVID-19 vaccine.

The "historic collaboration" between the two competitors in the interests of national security was announced by US President Joseph Biden. Sources within the presidential administration told the news channel that the partnership agreement between the pharmaceutical companies was approved by the White House after it became clear to the government that Johnson & Johnson was not able to produce the required number of vaccines on its own.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is receiving special attention in the United States because, unlike most other vaccines that require two shots, the Johnson & Johnson product is administered only once. At the end of January, Merck & Co withdrew from an active fight to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The reason is that the vaccine created by Merck & Co together with the International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) did not generate a sufficient immune response in patients during the early stages of testing. It was weaker than in people who had not been given the vaccine and had been infected with the coronavirus.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will set aside two of its US facilities to produce the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, one to directly manufacture the drug and the other to package and package the drug for shipment to end users. According to NBC sources in the presidential administration, the U.S. government this week intends to ship the entire stockpile of the vaccine available to Johnson & Johnson - 3.9 million doses - to health care facilities in the country. Another 16 million doses should be produced by the end of the month.