U.S. Drugmaker Merck Enters Vaccine Race With 2 New Partnerships

The company says it wants to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and build the capability of tackling future viruses that could cause epidemics.
Posted at 11:57 AM, May 26, 2020

American drugmaker Merck is purchasing Austrian vaccine maker Themis and joining the race for a coronavirus vaccine. Merck also plans to collaborate with a nonprofit research organization to develop a second vaccine.

The president of Merck Research Laboratories said of purchasing Themis, “We are eager to combine our strengths both to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine in the near term and to build a pandemic preparedness capability directed toward emerging agents that pose a future epidemic threat.”

In its partnership with the nonprofit, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the company will work on a second COVID-19 vaccine that will use technology the company uses in its Ebola vaccine.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said earlier this month the U.S. government has set a goal of making 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine available to the country before 2021. Experts are starting to narrow down which vaccine projects to put what he called "the big financial bets behind."