Merck will help manufacture J&J Covid vax

New York, March 3: In a rare deal between competitors, pharmaceutical major Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, has inked a deal to support efforts to expand manufacturing capacity and supply of Johnson and Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine, American President Joe Biden said.

"Two of the largest healthcare and pharmaceutical companies in the world -- that are usually competitors -- are working together on the vaccine," Biden said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Johnson & Johnson and Merck will work together to expand the production of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. This is the type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War Two."

Merck will use its facilities in the US to produce drug substance, formulate and fill vials of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine.

"We are steadfast in our commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemic as part of the remarkable efforts of the entire medical and scientific community," Mike Nally, Executive Vice President, Human Health at Merck, said in a separate statement.

When the Biden administration took office it promised there will be 100 million vaccination shots administered in its first 100 days in office.

"We've got halfway to that goal in 37 days, and I feel confident we'll make it all the way," the President said.

He said that Johnson & Johnson is also taking additional new actions to safely accelerate vaccine production.

"Here"s what all this means: We're now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May," Biden said.

The US has already started rolling out Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine to states, after the single-dose vaccine got green light from regulators last week to be administered to people 18 and older.

"Since January of 2020, we have been working directly with governments, health authorities and other companies to help end this pandemic," Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

"Merck is the ninth manufacturer to join our global network and this significant collaboration will further enable us to deliver our Covid-19 vaccine worldwide. We will continue to invest in collaborations so we can bring our full resources and best scientific minds to combat this pandemic."