Merck Reportedly Set to Help Produce Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Merck is set to produce additional doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine in a bid to ramp up production, reports say.
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Merck & Co.  (MRK) - Get Report has contracted to produce additional doses of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Report single-shot coronavirus vaccine, according to White House officials cited in media reports.

Shares of Merck, Kenilworth, N.J., at last check rose 0.6% to $72.82. Shares of Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J., rose 0.4% to $159.96.

The Washington Post was the first to report the news. 

The drugmaker will dedicate two U.S. facilities to Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, according to the report. The locations of the two facilities weren't disclosed.

President Joe Biden is expected to announce the partnership on Tuesday.

Merck last month discontinued development of its coronavirus vaccine, citing 'inferior immune response' compared with those developed by rivals.

The company said it instead would focus on its two COVID-19 therapy treatments, which late last year received emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

"Merck remains steadfast in our commitment to contribute to the global response to the pandemic," the company said, as quoted by Reuters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Sunday voted 12-0 to approve the single-shot J&J vaccine for widespread use. That clearance followed the FDA's emergency-use authorization decision on Saturday. 

So far, 76.9 million doses of approved coronavirus vaccines have been administered in the U.S., according to the Bloomberg tracker.

Merck in February posted weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and said longtime Chief Executive Ken Frazier would retire later this year.