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Rival Companies to Work Together in COVID Fight

March 2, 2021 by TWN Staff
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Pharmceutical giant Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved coronavirus vaccine in an effort to expand supply more quickly, the White House announcedTuesday.

The partnership will help advance the administration’s goal of speeding up production of the single-dose vaccine and accelerate the nation’s plans to vaccinate nearly all adult Americans in the coming months.

The government will facilitate this partnership in several key ways, including invoking the Defense Production Act to equip two Merck facilities to the standards necessary to safely manufacture the vaccine, and asking the Department of Defense to provide daily logistical support to strengthen Johnson & Johnson’s efforts.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also announced Tuesday that the federal government was increasing supply of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to states next week to 15.2 million doses per week, up from 14.5 million previously. In addition, states will receive 2.8 million doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Psaki said.

“So they are receiving a total of 18 million doses,” said Psaki.

All those developments enabled President Biden to announce Tuesday afternoon that the United States will have enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all American adults for coronavirus by the end of May, crediting a “stepped up process” under his administration.

“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “When we came into office the prior administration had contracted for not nearly enough vaccine to cover adults in America. We rectified that.”

In addition, the AP reports that on n a call with governors Tuesday, White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said states should prepare for administering 16-17 million total weekly doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of March, climbing to 17-18 million weekly by early April.

The supply of J&J doses to states is expected to climb to 4-6 million weekly doses by the end of March and 5-6 million doses weekly through the end of April.

More than 800,000 doses of the J&J vaccine will also be distributed this week to pharmacies to administer in a separate federally-run program that also includes 2.4 million doses of the other two shots. Both figures are expected to steadily increase, as the White House increasingly looks to the capacity of pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens to help speed the nation’s mass vaccination campaign.

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