is directing his administration to secure an additional 100 million doses of
Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year, a senior administration official said.
If an agreement with the company is completed, the additional supply would double J&J’s previous commitment to provide 100 million doses to the U.S. The president is expected to announce his push for additional doses during a Wednesday afternoon meeting at the White House with J&J CEO
Merck & Co. Inc.
Any additional doses would be delivered in the second half of the year, the official said.
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J&J’s August 2020 agreement to deliver the initial 100 million doses of its vaccine includes the option for the government to purchase additional doses under a subsequent agreement, a J&J spokesman said. The spokesman said the company looks forward to future discussions with the government.
The White House helped negotiate an agreement between J&J and Merck, two longtime competitors, in which Merck will help produce the J&J vaccine. White House officials have hailed the agreement as an example of the type of collaboration that is necessary to help tackle the pandemic.
J&J’s one-dose shot was approved by U.S. regulators late last month. The company initially delivered fewer doses of the vaccine than officials expected.
The Biden administration has focused on accelerating the pace of vaccinations as states struggled in recent months with limited supply and overwhelming demand. The White House said states will receive 15.8 million doses this week, up from 15.2 million last week. Another 2.7 million doses will be distributed to pharmacies. Those shipments don’t include doses of the J&J vaccine due to manufacturing constraints.
Mr. Biden has said the U.S. will have enough Covid-19 vaccines for all American adults by the end of May, though it will likely take longer to get those shots into people’s arms. The seven-day average of daily doses administered has risen to 2.2 million, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mr. Biden previously announced that the U.S. had reached agreements with
which have each won federal approval for their two-dose vaccines, for 600 million total doses of their shots.
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The Pfizer and Moderna supplies are expected to be enough to cover all individuals in the U.S. who are currently eligible. The vaccine hasn’t been approved for people under 16 years old. Administration officials have sought to increase the total number of vaccines to prepare for all contingencies, including new variants that could require booster shots.
Senior administration officials, including White House Covid-19 coordinator
worked for weeks to help boost J&J’s vaccine production, according to people familiar with the matter.
Administration discussions about stepping up production of the J&J vaccine began in late January, two people familiar with the situation said, and officials reached out to the companies in February. Mr. Zients worked on the deal with the two companies’ chief executives and officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, a person familiar with the situation said.
As part of the agreement, the administration committed to help Merck with upgrading its facilities for vaccine production.
—Peter Loftus contributed to this article.
Write to Sabrina Siddiqui at Sabrina.Siddiqui@wsj.com
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Source: WSJ – US News