President Biden will announce Tuesday that Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, administration officials said, a partnership between rival companies that could help produce more doses. 

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration over the weekend, adding a third vaccine to the U.S. arsenal, but supplies will be limited at first. The entire existing supply of 3.9 million doses are going out the this week, with none coming next week, and the company has faced production delays.

The partnership with Merck, a major vaccine manufacturer, could help address the shortages, though it was not immediately clear how many more doses Merck will be able to make or when they will be available. 

The move was first reported by The Washington Post. 

Biden is scheduled to give remarks on Tuesday afternoon in the State Dining Room of the White House.

Merck announced at the end of January that it was discontinuing efforts on its own COVID-19 vaccine after disappointing results in a phase 1 trial. That helps free up manufacturing space for another vaccine. 

“Merck remains steadfast in our commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemic and to preparing to address future pandemics,” a Merck spokesperson said.

Vaccine manufacturing is complex and it can take time to modify factories so that they can make a new vaccine.

There is some precedent already for this kind of partnership, as the French drugmaker Sanofi said in January it would help make Pfizer’s vaccine in Europe.

Johnson & Johnson was previously slated to have 20 million doses for the U.S. by the end of March and 100 million by the end of June.

That vaccine only requires one dose, also helping the supply go further.

Updated at 9:05 a.m.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 FDA Joe Biden johnson & johnson Merck vaccinations Vaccine
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