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J&J nabs $1B under US Warp Speed for 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine


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J&J nabs $1B under US Warp Speed for 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine

SNL ImageJohnson & Johnson is getting $1 billion from U.S. taxpayers to make and deliver 100 million doses of the company's experimental COVID-19 vaccine under the government's Operation Warp Speed project.

J&J is the latest company to join the ranks of biopharmaceutical manufacturers to nab big contracts with the U.S. government to make vaccines to prevent COVID-19, a disease that has killed about 157,000 Americans.

The Warp Speed project is a public-private endeavor to accelerate the research, development and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests.

Other Warp Speed COVID-19 vaccine contracts include $2.1 billion to Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline PLC for 100 million doses, $1.95 billion to Pfizer Inc. for 100 million doses, $1.6 billion to Novavax Inc. for 100 million doses, and $1.2 billion to AstraZeneca PLC for 300 million doses.

Moderna Inc. has also received $1 billion from the U.S. government for the research and development of its experimental vaccine, while Merck & Co. Inc. and its collaborator IAVI received an undisclosed amount.

The range in the U.S. government contract awards means costs for each vaccine will vary.

Under Sanofi and GSK's contract, the U.S. cost is about $21 per dose, while it is about $19.50 per dose for the Pfizer vaccine, $16 per dose for Novavax's product and $4 per dose for AstraZeneca's vaccine. J&J's contract would put the U.S. cost of its vaccine at about $10 per dose.

If J&J's doses are used in a COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the vaccine would be available to the American people at no cost, though healthcare professionals could charge for administering the product, the government stated.

During its Aug. 5 earnings call with investors and analysts, Moderna estimated the cost per dose for its vaccine would be between $32 and $37. That product is in phase 3 testing.

J&J contract

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said J&J's vaccine, known as Ad26.COV2.S, could be used in the U.S. in clinical trials or if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants emergency use authorization. The company said the deal also includes providing doses of its vaccine after FDA approval, if granted.

The U.S. taxpayer funds are being committed by HHS' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the Department of Defense.

J&J said its Janssen unit will provide the vaccine at a "global not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use."

The U.S. government may also purchase an additional 200 million doses of Ad26.COV2.S under a subsequent agreement, the company stated.

Paul Stoffels, J&J's chief scientific officer, said the company is scaling up production in the U.S. and worldwide to deliver its vaccine for emergency use.

J&J said it aims to supply more than one billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine globally through 2021.

The company is studying one- and two-dose regimens of Ad26.COV2.S in a phase 1/2a first-in-human clinical trial in healthy volunteers in the U.S. and Belgium.

The vaccine is based on J&J's AdVac technology, which was used to develop its Ebola vaccine and to construct its experimental products to prevent HIV, respiratory syncytial virus and Zika.