Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are now approved, on an emergency basis, in the United States, and are entering veins. That will not be the end of the story. “Operation Warp Speed” is continuing, and other Big Pharm companies, working with its encouragement, are coming close to the same finish line, to getting their own products to market.
Johnson & Johnson, a US based public company that is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is working on what it calls the Janssen vaccine. In August of this year J&J committed to delivering up to 300 million doses of this vaccine to the US in a deal worth $1 billion or more.
Separately, Merck — one of the largest biopharm concerns in the world — has a vaccine in development called MK-7110. A statement it issued on December 23 said: “Merck will receive up to approximately $356 million for manufacturing and supply of approximately 60,000-100,000 doses of MK-7110 to the U.S. Government through June 30, 2021 to meet the government’s Operation Warp Speed goals.”
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For months to come, these drug companies and their Covid products are not in competition. The companies are reimbursed by the government, and vaccine recipients have no choice as to whose branded product will be injected into their arms. At some point in the middle distance, the disease will have receded from the front burner of public concern. But it will probably exist at the margins, and in that context the above mentioned vaccines, and others, may find themselves in competition for recipient’s and insurers’ brand loyalty.