WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the United States will procure an additional 100 million doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.
Biden made the announcement after a meeting with the chief executives of J&J and Merck & Co who have agreed to a collaboration to produce J&J’s coronavirus vaccine.
“You know what’s clear is this is a historic, nearly unprecedented, collaboration, ” said Biden.
Biden also announced that 60% of those 65 and older had received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine. He added that 7 weeks earlier only 8% had.
During his remarks, Biden mentioned the House officially passing the president’s 1.9 trillion stimulus plan which Press Secretary Jen Psaki said he will sign Friday afternoon.
“This bill represents a historic, historic, victory for the American people, and I look forward to signing it later this week,” said Biden.
He also announced that during Thursday’s prime time presidential address, he will reveal the next phase of the White House’s coronavirus response initiatives including additional legislation.
The United States has already paid over $1 billion for 100 million doses from J&J and had an option to purchase an additional 200 million doses.
The news comes more than a week after Biden announced that Merck and Co Inc will help make rival J&J’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in a partnership. Merck’s collaboration with J&J comes after Merck scrapped development of its own COVID-19 vaccine candidates in January.
The U.S. government is invoking the Defense Production Act in order to equip Merck’s plants to be able to produce the J&J vaccine.
So far, Johnson & Johnson’s shot is the only one-dose coronavirus vaccine available in the U.S. It also doesn’t require the ultra-cold storage needed previously by the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, officials said, making storage and distribution much easier.
J&J’s manufacturing has been slower than hoped, and it was not expected to be able to deliver any vaccine doses this week. It is expected to resume shipments later this month.
FDA staff released a report last month that said the J&J shot is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19. J&J also said in January its vaccine was 66% effective against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people.
Last year, Biden set the goal of 100 million vaccine doses administered within his first 100 days in office. Biden is on track to hit that goal as soon as the end of next week.
About 32 million people, or 9.7% of the U.S. population, have been fully inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer Inc/ BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson, according to CDC data. More than 18% of the U.S. population, or 61 million adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
There have been more than 29 million confirmed cases in the United States and more than 525,000 Americans have died from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.