Merck to help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine

Pharmacist with COVID-19 vaccine
A pharmacist prepares Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
(Johnson & Johnson)

Drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved COVID-19 shot in an effort to expand the nation’s vaccine supply more quickly, a Biden administration official confirmed Tuesday.

The announcement comes as the White House looks to speed the production of the single-dose vaccine. Officials have said Johnson & Johnson faced unexpected production issues with its vaccine and produced only 3.9 million doses ahead of its receiving emergency-use authorization Saturday. The company says it is on pace to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June.

The assistance from Merck was expected to help Johnson & Johnson meet its production commitments and expand supply even further, but the administration did not immediately provide specifics.

President Biden is set to highlight the development in a speech Tuesday afternoon. The official confirmed Merck’s involvement on condition of anonymity ahead of Biden’s public announcement.

The news was first reported by the Washington Post.