The United States will have enough Covid-19 vaccines for every American adult by the end of May, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday after Merck & Co agreed to make rival Johnson & Johnson’s inoculation.
The partnership between drug makers, as well as other steps the government is taking to assist J&J, will allow the company to accelerate delivery of 100 million vaccine doses by around a month, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“One of the things that I learned when I came into office was that Johnson & Johnson was behind in manufacturing and production,” Biden said. “It simply wasn’t coming fast enough. So my team has been hard at work to accelerate that effort.”
He said the US government had invoked the Defense Production Act to help equip two Merck plants to make the J&J vaccine.
Biden also said plants already making J&J’s vaccine would step up their output, producing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
These actions will ultimately double J&J’s U.S. ability to produce vaccines and increase its fill-finish capacity, where the product is put into vials and readied for shipping, HHS said.
“We expect this manufacturing arrangement will enhance our production capacity so that we can supply beyond our current commitments,” J&J said in a statement.