President Joe Biden will announce that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, a senior administration official confirmed to NBC News.
The announcement comes as the administration works to ramp up the production of J&J’s single-shot vaccine. Senior administration officials said Sunday the U.S. government would ship J&J’s entire inventory of 3.9 million doses this week, adding that supply would be “uneven” in the following weeks. Sixteen million more doses are expected by the end of the month.
Under the arrangement, Merck will dedicate two facilities in the U.S. to J&J’s vaccine, according to NBC News. One facility will make the vaccine itself while the other will provide “fill-finish” services, the last stage of the production process during which the vaccine is placed in vials.
At the same time, Alex Gorsky CEO of the company, says that
Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine will be an important tool in the fight against the coronavirus because it prevents hospitalizations and keeps people from dying, CEO Alex Gorsky said.
The FDA on Saturday authorized J&J’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the third shot to be approved for distribution in the U.S. and the only vaccine that requires just one dose. Clinical trial data shows J&J’s vaccine is 66% effective overall at protecting against Covid, compared with about 95% for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Some people have questioned whether they should get J&J’s vaccine due to the lower effectiveness rate. While the efficacy rate is lower, the most important finding of the vaccine is that it prevented 100% of virus-related hospitalizations and deaths, Gorsky said.