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Johnson & Johnson sets stage for COVID-19 shot rollout with ‘first in a series’ manufacturing deal

April 24, 2020 Kyle Blankenship

Johnson & Johnson has joined a suite of drugmakers hoping to pump out a COVID-19 vaccine as fast as possible. Now, the company is pairing with a contract manufacturer to prep the field for its potential vaccine launch.

J&J inked a deal with Emergent BioSolutions to boost manufacturing of the New Jersey drugmaker’s top COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which the company hopes to move into phase 1 trials in September, J&J said in a release.

As part of the deal, J&J will expand its own capacity for producing the vaccine candidate, and Emergent will begin using its “molecule-to-market” manufacturing to chip in later this year. Emergent will also reserve capacity to support a potential commercial rollout of J&J’s shot beginning as early as 2021 should it nab an approval. 

J&J has already earmarked its Leiden, Netherlands facility for clinical vaccine production and plans to begin manufacturing the vaccine “at-risk” to support human trials. 

Meanwhile, J&J is aiming to amp up vaccine capacity worldwide in anticipation of a potential rollout around the world. The drugmaker called the Emergent deal the “first in a series” to help boost its global production scale in preparation for its hoped-for approvals.

“The additional global capacity will assist in the rapid production of a vaccine and enable the supply of more than one billion doses of a safe and effective vaccine to people around the world,” J&J said in a release.

RELATED: A bull’s-eye from 24 feet? COVID-19 vaccine timelines are overly hopeful, analyst says 

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