Merck to Help J&J Make Its Covid-19 Vaccine, Biden to Announce

Merck & Co. will help produce Johnson & Johnson ’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine, President Biden plans to announce later Tuesday, as the administration pushes to get the shot to the American public at a faster pace.

The president is expected to make the announcement while giving an update on the pandemic Tuesday afternoon, administration officials said. The assistance from Merck, usually a competitor to Johnson & Johnson, will help speed up production after the one-shot vaccine was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday.

J&J declined to comment. In a statement Tuesday, a spokesman for Merck said the company “remains steadfast in our commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemic and to preparing to address future pandemics.”

U.S. regulators cleared J&J’s vaccine—the third to receive approval—for use, but initial supplies are limited as the company continues to increase manufacturing efforts. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based firm had made nearly four million doses for initial shipments that began going out this week. The Biden administration said it expected about 20 million doses to be delivered by the end of March.

Merck, a Kenilworth, N.J. firm, is a pioneer in vaccines, such as those to prevent mumps and shingles, but has been on the sidelines of the Covid-19 vaccine race since scrapping two programs in January after disappointing clinical studies. Merck was also slower to pursue Covid-19 vaccines, The Wall Street Journal reported last year.

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