Merck will help produce Johnson & Johnson vaccine in ‘unprecedented’ partnership
Merck will help produce Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine as part of a federally facilitated partnership, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed during a press briefing Tuesday.
Psaki described the collaboration as an “unprecedented historic step” and said the Defense Production Act will be invoked to equip two Merck facilities with the equipment necessary to manufacture the vaccine, aligning with the Biden administration’s previous vow to address vaccine supply shortages with a “wartime effort.”
The Department of Defense will provide logistical support, with the hope of expanding vaccine production to increase Johnson & Johnson’s fill/finish capacity for the one-dose vaccine, which the FDA recently authorized for emergency use.
“These are two companies that have historically been competitors, so the fact that they are coming together speaks to the ability of this administration broadly to bring them to the table and work together to address the pandemic,” Psaki said.
The White House said Monday that distribution of the first 3.9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine had begun. A Johnson & Johnson executive said last week that the company still expects to be able to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June.
Psaki noted that the collaboration between the two companies will ensure Johnson & Johnson can expedite its vaccine manufacturing process, which is “good news for the American people.”