Merck to help produce J & J COVID-19 vaccine

March 3, 2021

Merck and Johnson & Johnson have agreed to work together to produce and package the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which is part of Johnson & Johnson, according to news releases from the White House and Merck.

Based on that collaboration, President Joe Biden said at a news conference that he expects the United States to have enough vaccines available for every adult by the end of May.

During the news conference, he also said the government has invoked “the Defense Production Act to equip two Merck facilities to the standards necessary to safely manufacture the J&J vaccine.”

Specifically, Merck has agreed to adapt the facilities in the United States to produce drug substance and to formulate and fill vials with the COVID-19 vaccine.

To help with this effort, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will provide Merck with funding of up to $268.8 million to adapt and make available those manufacturing facilities for the production of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson’s manufacturing facilities will now begin to operate 24/7 to produce the vaccine, President Biden said, adding that the Department of Defense will “provide daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts.”

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