J&J has $1B agreement with U.S. government to support 100M doses of COVID vaccine

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. unit has an agreement with the U.S. government to provide 100 million doses of its COVID-19 investigational vaccine, for potential use in the U.S., the pharma giant announced Wednesday.

The agreement covers large-scale domestic manufacturing and delivery of the doses, according to a news release from New Brunswick-based J&J, pending approval or emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is committing more than $1 billion for the agreement, J&J said. The vaccine would be provided at a global not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.

“Johnson & Johnson’s global team of experts has worked tirelessly alongside BARDA and scientific partners to pursue a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine that can help to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer, said in a prepared statement. “We greatly appreciate the U.S. government’s confidence in, and support for, our R&D platform and efforts, and the scalability of our vaccine technology.

“We are scaling up production in the U.S. and worldwide to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for emergency use.”

The government would be able to enter into a subsequent agreement covering up to 300 million more people, HHS said in a news release.

“With the portfolio of vaccines being assembled for ‘Operation Warp Speed,’ the (President Donald) Trump administration is increasing the likelihood that the United States will have at least one safe, effective vaccine by 2021,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “Today’s investment represents the next step in supporting Janssen’s vaccine candidate all the way through manufacturing, with the potential to bring hundreds of millions of safe and effective doses to the American people.”