With COVID-19 vaccine players speeding their way through early testing, governments around the world are looking to put deals in place to secure supply of a possible winner for their own citizens. Drugmakers like AstraZeneca may already be ahead of the pack, but other companies are now taking a seat at the negotiating table.
Johnson & Johnson is in talks with the Japanese government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to supply doses of its COVID-19 vaccine hopeful as the drugmaker prepares to start human testing next week, Reuters reported.
In an interview with the outlet, CFO Joe Wolk said Japan and the Gates Foundation—which would distribute the vaccines to developing nations—are looking to lock in "a certain minimum level" of supply if J&J's vaccine receives international approval.
No deal has yet been finalized, Wolk said, but potential agreements would resemble the $1.2 billion development deal British drugmaker AstraZeneca signed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in May to secure capacity for U.S. supply.
Meanwhile, the European Union is also working to cobble together its own supply deals with most of the major vaccine players, including J&J, Sanofi, Moderna, Pfizer partner BioNTech and Curevac, two EU sources told Reuters.
The most advanced of those talks is with Sanofi and partner GlaxoSmithKline to supply around 300 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine in the second half of 2021, Reuters said.
So far, AstraZeneca has outraced the pack in reaching government supply deals with the U.S., U.K., EU, Brazil and others for the University of Oxford's adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine, AZD1222.