As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the country last year, the US worked with pharmaceutical giants to quickly make and produce vaccines. Now that vaccine shots are getting into more arms, Johnson & Johnson's CEO Alex Gorsky hopes the US continues to partner with drugmakers after the pandemic ends.
Gorsky said on Wednesday he hopes the country doesn't "go back to doing business as usual" after the pandemic, and said the public-private partnerships helped curb the rising number of COVID-19 deaths.
"I hope we don't go back to doing business as usual," Gorsky said in an interview with the Washington Post. "I think having spent more than 30 years of my life in this industry, I have never seen this level of collaboration as I've observed over the last 13 months."
Johnson & Johnson, which began researching a COVID-19 vaccine last February, received $1 billion from the US Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense to expand vaccine production.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized J&J's vaccine for emergency use on Saturday, and states began receiving doses this week. Adding Johnson & Johnson's doses to the country's Moderna and Pfizer vaccine supply could allow the US to provide shots for the entire population by May, according to President Joe Biden.
Gorsky commended the FDA's effort to rapidly review vaccine data while keeping the process transparent. He said US regulators shared trial data between companies, which gave them "much greater certainty in a shorter period of time."
The cross-pharmaceutical partnerships continued after the vaccines were made. Biden announced a "historic" partnership between Johnson & Johnson and Merck - two competing pharmaceutical giants - on Tuesday.
Merck will dedicate US facilities to produce Johnson & Johnson's doses to speed up the country's vaccine rollout. Gorsky told The Washington Post that Merck's executives could not have been "more willing" to get involved when he reached out for the partnership. He added the partnership was the first in the pharmaceutical industry, and said he hopes it sets a "great example" for other pharmas.