Johnson & Johnson forges $1-billion pact to supply US with COVID-19 vaccine

Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday said it entered into an agreement with the US government for the large-scale domestic manufacturing and delivery of 100 million doses of its investigational SARS-CoV-2 vaccine Ad26.COV2.S for use in the country. Specifically, the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has committed over $1 billion under this vaccine-manufacturing deal, while the government also has the option to acquire additional doses of Ad26.COV2.S it says would be sufficient to vaccinate up to 300 million people.

Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, stated "we greatly appreciate the US government's confidence in, and support for, our R&D platform and efforts and the scalability of our vaccine technology." The company is targeting more than 1 billion doses globally through the course of 2021, with Stoffels noting "we are scaling up production in the US and worldwide to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for emergency use."

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), BARDA has so far provided approximately $456 million for clinical trials and other vaccine development activities under an existing long-term partnership with Johnson & Johnson.

Clinical testing under way

The company recently initiated a Phase I/II trial of Ad26.COV2.S in healthy volunteers in the US and Belgium. That study, along with a potential Phase III trial that could get under way in September, will test both one- and two-dose regimens of the adenovirus serotype 26 (Ad26) vector-based vaccine in parallel.

HHS noted that if used in the course of a COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Ad26.COV2.S would be made available to the American people at no cost, although healthcare professionals could charge for administering the vaccine. The health department also said that the latest deal includes fill-finish manufacturing at US-based facilities, a step it says will ensure that vaccine doses are ready to ship immediately, pending successful clinical trials and FDA authorisation.

The US agreement is Johnson & Johnson's first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country. Meanwhile, the company is in discussions with the EU, but no deal has been struck yet.

To read more Top Story articles, click here.