(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson said on Thursday it had struck a deal with Emergent BioSolutions Inc to use its manufacturing facilities to help in an effort to make more than 1 billion doses of a vaccine it is testing to stop the novel coronavirus.
The U.S. healthcare conglomerate said the deal was the first in a series of prospective global partnerships to accelerate manufacturing of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidate, even before it has a signal that it works.
J&J plans to start human testing by September, with an eye on having it ready under an emergency use authorization in early 2021, far quicker than the typical 18-month period that it takes for vaccines to be tested, approved and then manufactured.
Under the deal, valued at about $135 million, Emergent said it would provide drug substance manufacturing services and was reserving large-scale manufacturing capacity.
J&J and the U.S. government are investing $1 billion to create enough manufacturing capacity for the experimental vaccine candidate to stop the virus that has killed nearly 185,000 people around the globe.