US Gov’t To Buy 100 M More Doses of J&J’s COVID-19 Vaccine; EU OKs Vaccine

The US government will purchase an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine. President Joe Biden made the announcement this week (March 10, 2021) at the White House with J&J Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky and Merck & Co.’s Chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier present. Also, the European Commission provided conditional marketing authorization for the vaccine.

The announcement for the additional 100 million follows an announcement last week (March 2, 2021) that Merck will support the manufacturing of the vaccine. J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization late last month (February 2021) from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The agreement by the US government to purchase an additional 100 million doses of the vaccine follows an agreement between the US government and J&J signed last August (August 2020) for an initial 100 million doses of the vaccine.

“I couldn’t be more honored to be at the White House today [March 10, 2021] celebrating this landmark collaboration between Johnson & Johnson, Merck and the Biden administration to further accelerate production of our vaccine,” Gorsky said in comments at the White House. “Our industry realized in the early days of the pandemic that vaccine development wasn’t a race against each other as competitors—it was a race against time to defeat a common enemy. Our new collaboration with Merck will allow us to be even more ambitious in our goals of keeping as many people around the world as safe as we possibly can.”

Earlier this month (March 2021), the US government announced that it will collaborate with Merck & Co. to repurpose some of existing Merck facilities for rapid large-scale manufacturing of vaccines and therapeutics for use in public health emergencies, including the current pandemic. The facilities will be available to private sector partners working with the US federal government on the COVID-19 response or to produce Merck products against COVID-19. J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals will be the first federal partner to use repurposed Merck facilities to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine.

EU authorizes J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine

Also, this week (March 11, 2020), the European Commission granted a conditional marketing authorization for J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine, making it the fourth vaccine authorized in the EU.

The vaccine will be given in one dose to adults aged 18 years and older for preventing COVID-19.

With the conditional market authorization and based on an agreement earlier signed in October 2020, J&J is slated to deliver 200 million of the vaccine to the European Union (EU) starting in the second quarter of 2021, according to information from the European Commission. The contract allows EU member states to purchase an additional 200 million doses. For the EU, this will add to the total amount of 600 doses BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, 460 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, and 400 million of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine authorized in Canada

Health Canada, the pharmaceutical regulatory body of Canada, has granted an interim order authorization for J&J’ COVID-19 vaccine in individuals 18 years of age and older.

J&J anticipates fulfilling the 10 million doses included in an advance purchase agreement with the Canadian government by the end of the third quarter of 2021. The company says it will share more information on anticipated delivery timing as it becomes available. The terms of the interim order allow use of the vaccine while more data are gathered. J&J plans to file for a Notice of Compliance with Health Canada later in 2021.

Source: White HouseEuropean CommissionJohnson & Johnson (White House briefing), and Johnson & Johnson (authorization in Canada)

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