Johnson & Johnson said it has agreed to supply 100 million doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. for more than US$1 billion, the latest in a string of such pacts between the government and pharmaceutical companies.
Under the agreement, J&J will manufacture and deliver its SARS-CoV-2 investigational vaccine in the U.S., according to a statement by the health-care giant on Wednesday. The J&J vaccine is expected to go into late-stage trials in September.
The U.S. government has recently forged a series of deals with companies including as Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. to secure access to the vaccine. The J&J pact follows release of a study showing the company’s candidate vaccine generated a strong antibody response in primates, and provided protection with a single dose.
The primate data is a positive development for J&J, providing a competitive advantage against other vaccines that are further along in testing but require two doses over time.
Johnson & Johnson shares were up 0.8 per cent at 10:35 a.m in New York.
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense, may also acquire added doses sufficient to vaccinate 300 million people under a subsequent agreement, the government said in a separate statement.
If the shot proves successful in the clinic and the U.S. launches a nationwide pandemic vaccination campaign, it would be made available to Americans at no cost, and delivered at government-designated locations across the country, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Health-care providers, though, could charge for administering the shot, the statement said.
The US$1-billion-plus effort to supply the U.S. with J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine will also rely on U.S. manufacturing facilities known as fill-finish sites, where doses are packaged into sterile dispensers, allowing them to be shipped more quickly, according to HHS.
J&J has already received a US$456 million award from the department’s BARDA unit for its research and development efforts, which focus on technology based on the human adenovirus, a type of common cold virus.
Paul Stoffels, the drugmaker’s chief scientific officer, told Bloomberg last week that the pre-clinical results “are a very important part of the profile that we can bring to the table over the next few weeks as we work with different countries on reaching advanced agreements.”
Stoffels said J&J would likely approach regulators for an emergency use approval of its one-dose shot, should it prove successful in late-stage studies.
The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company has previously said that it’s also entered discussions with the European Union and governments around the world about supplying its vaccine.