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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Empty vials that contained a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will announce Tuesday that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help Johnson & Johnson manufacture its newly authorized coronavirus vaccine to boost supply, a senior administration official tells Axios.

The big picture: The development has the potential to vastly increase supply, possibly doubling what the J&J could make on its own, the official said. The company has run into challenges while trying to expand its vaccine production to a global scale.

  • Jeff Zients, the White House's COVID-19 response coordinator, said at a briefing Monday that 3.9 million doses of the J&J vaccine will be distributed to states, tribes, territories, pharmacies and community health centers this week, starting as early as Tuesday.

The state of play: Merck will dedicate two U.S. facilities for J&J shots, one to help place vaccine in vials and package and the other to make the vaccine itself. The Washington Post first reported the partnership.

  • Merck's experience in vaccine production is vast, despite its discontinuation in developing its own vaccine against the coronavirus in January. It's the only supplier for the vaccine which protects children from measles, mumps and rubella.
  • It developed Gardasil, which protects against the human papillomavirus and also received FDA approval for an Ebola vaccine in 2019.

Background: J&J’s vector-based COVID-19 shot, which received the FDA’s emergency use authorization on Saturday, was also recommended by the CDC a day later for people ages 18 years and older.

  • Both Johnson & Johnson and Merck did yet not respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

Updated Mar 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump received COVID vaccine at White House in January

Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Former President Trump and former first lady Melania Trump were both vaccinated at the White House in January, a Trump adviser tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump declared at CPAC on Sunday that "everybody" should get the coronavirus vaccine — the first time he's encouraged his supporters, who have been more skeptical of getting vaccinated, to do so.

Mar 2, 2021 - World

Latin America turns to China and Russia for COVID-19 vaccines

Several countries in the Americas have received their first vaccine shipments over the past few weeks — not from the regional superpower or from Western pharmaceutical giants, but from China, Russia, and in some cases India.

Why it matters: North and South America have been battered by the pandemic and recorded several of the world’s highest death tolls. Few countries other than the U.S. have the capacity to manufacture vaccines at scale, and most lack the resources to buy their way to the front of the line for imports. That’s led to a scramble for whatever supply is available.

Updated Dec 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.