Johnson & Johnson is looking for manufacturing partnerships to increase supply of its Covid-19 vaccine that was cleared Saturday by U.S. regulators, Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky said.
J&J will deliver 3.9 million doses of its one-shot vaccine within the next 24 to 48 hours, Gorsky said Monday in a telephone interview. The company wants to speed up its timeline of supplying enough vaccines to immunize 20 million Americans by the end of the month and a total of 100 million by the end of June, he said.
“We are doing everything we can partnering with the U.S. government and other external manufacturers to see what we can do to accelerate and increase that number as well,” Gorsky said.
The CEO acknowledged that J&J had hit supply snags in its efforts to ramp up production. “In my more than 30 years in the industry, what I can tell you is this kind of a ramp-up is never -- or rarely -- what I would call a linear shot,” Gorsky said. “There are almost always going to be unanticipated challenges along the way.”
J&J is focused on two particular parts of the production process, he said. For one, the company wants more capacity to grow a cold virus used in the vaccine, called an adenovirus.
It also wants to augment fill-finish, a final step where the vaccine is placed in vials. Fill-finish capacity is limited, Gorsky said, and as result, the company is looking to increase it in the future.
“We’re leaving no stone unturned in terms of partnerships,” he said. “One of the most important lessons of the pandemic is the power of collaboration.”
The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker remains in active discussions with the U.S. government about exercising options for additional doses, Gorsky said.