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3 Mar 2021

Merck agrees to support Johnson & Johnson in vaccine manufacturing deal

Funding from BARDA helps the company to adapt and make available a number of existing manufacturing facilities for the production of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and medicines

In a deal brokered by the US Biden administration, US pharma firm Merck has agreed to help rival Johnson & Johnson's manufacturing of its recently approved single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

Merck will make available two of its facilities for drug substance production and vial filling of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Announcing the deal at the White House on March 2, US President Joe Biden described the deal as “two of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world who are usually competitors are working together on the vaccine."

"This is the type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War II," he added.

He said the arrangement has materialised because "among the things I learned when I came into office was that Johnson & Johnson was behind in manufacturing and production."

"We had the potential to have a highly effective vaccine to accompany the two existing vaccines. It simply wasn’t coming fast enough," he added.

According to J&J, Merck is the ninth manufacturer to join its global vaccine network.

In addition, Merck will receive up to $268.8 million of funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division within the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adapt and make available a number of existing manufacturing facilities for the production of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.

Mike Nally, executive vice president, Human Health at Merck said: "This funding from BARDA will allow us to accelerate our efforts to scale up our manufacturing capacity to enable timely delivery of much-needed medicines and vaccines for the pandemic.”

This funding is in addition to Merck’s investment in its global vaccines manufacturing network as part of its planned capital investments of more than $20 billion from 2020 through the end of 2024.

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