- Johnson & Johnson has agreed to supply the U.S. government with 100 million doses of its experimental coronavirus vaccine, a stockpile that could be used either in clinical trials or, if cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, a widespread inoculation campaign.
- If necessary, the U.S. government can negotiate to buy up to 200 million additional doses of the shot, which would be available at no cost in any U.S. vaccination program, excepting charges from doctors for administration.
- The U.S. government's ambitious Operation Warp Speed project has now awarded more than $9 billion to vaccine developers in an effort to secure access to a wide array of candidates. J&J began the first human trial of its vaccine candidate last week, and could soon join Moderna as well as Pfizer and partner BioNTech in large-scale efficacy studies.
Through Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government is pouring billions of dollars into the testing, production and purchase of vaccines to fight the new coronavirus.
In July alone, the Trump administration signed two agreements worth about $2 billion each with Pfizer and partners Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline. The U.S. government has also entered supply agreements worth more than $1 billion each with Novavax and AstraZeneca.
None of the vaccines have yet proven that they can protect people from coronavirus infection or developing COVID-19. But the urgency of the pandemic has led the U.S. and other governments to help companies scale up production of their vaccines "at risk," while those tests are still underway, so they can be quickly and widely distributed if they succeed.
With the J&J deal in place, the U.S. government has now bought 700 million doses, with the potential to secure 1.2 billion more, through deals involving five different vaccine candidates. The supply provided for upfront includes at least 300 million doses from AstraZeneca, and 100 million each under agreements with Pfizer, Novavax and the team of Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline.
J&J has committed to providing the vaccine at cost for emergency pandemic use. Under the agreement, the vaccine would become available to Americans if it's either approved by the FDA or given an emergency use authorization.
The latest $1 billion deal with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority values each dose of the experimental vaccine at roughly $10, roughly half of the implied price in the deal the government struck with Pfizer and BioNTech. BARDA had already awarded Janssen $456 million to help with research and development of the vaccine.
Janssen's shot employs the same technology that it used in its Ebola vaccine and in development of experimental HIV, RSV and Zika vaccines. The company said more than 90,000 people have already been vaccinated with products using the technology, which uses a virus to deliver genetic material encoding for viral proteins into the body, thereby spurring an immune response.
Should the COVID-19 vaccine prove safe and effective, J&J is aiming to supply more than 1 billion doses globally through 2021.