Mar 10, 2021
Joe Biden Meeting with Johnson & Johnson, Merck CEOs Speech Transcript March 10
President Joe Biden met with the Johnson & Johnson and Merck CEOs on March 10, 2021. They gave remarks on increased vaccine production. Read the transcript of their speech remarks here.
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Alex Gorsky: (00:00)
… To further accelerate production of our one-shot Janssen Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. I want to give a big thanks to President Biden for having us here today and for his leadership effort, to Johnson & Johnson’s 135,000 employees and our global partners for the really exceptional effort and expertise that have gone in to making sure our COVID-19 vaccine reaches as many corners of the world as quickly as possible, and also to my good friend, Ken Frazier, and to Merck for their partnership and for his personal friendship over the years.
Alex Gorsky: (00:40)
You know, our industry, it’s realized in the early days of the pandemic, the vaccine development, it wasn’t a race against each others as competitors. It’s really a race against time to defeat a common enemy. Today, we’re at war with COVID-19, and public private partnerships like the historic one that we’re celebrating today, well, they’re a major reason that last week I was privileged enough to witness some of the very first residents in our home state of New Jersey receiving doses of our vaccines just 13 months, 13 months, after we started the development process. And when one of the residents at this senior apartment was asked how she felt after she was given the shot, she looked at me and replied, “Safe.” I couldn’t be more proud.
Alex Gorsky: (01:39)
In our new collaboration with Merck, it’s going to allow us to even be more ambitious in our goals of keeping as many people around the world as safe as we possibly can with our effective one dose vaccine. So I’m proud, extremely proud, to count Ken Frazier as an active partner as we bring our companies together in new ways, on behalf of humanity. We share one common goal, above all things, and that is advancing public health. So please join me in welcoming Ken Frazier.
Ken Frazier: (02:38)
Mr. President, I want to begin by thanking you for the steady, practical, and resolute leadership you and your administration have provided, putting people before politics and fostering an environment in which private sector manufacturing and scientific capabilities can work in healthy partnership with government to create a force multiplier in a battle we simply must win. I’m also pleased to be here alongside my friend and colleague Alex Gorsky to talk about our historic collaboration.
Ken Frazier: (03:19)
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of our global community. It has created profound challenges and hardships, especially for our most vulnerable and disadvantaged people and communities. It has also shone a light on the resilience of our first responders, scientists, healthcare workers, and those providing essential community services, the real heroes of this challenging moment. At Merck, we’re proud to contribute to the global response to the pandemic. Through this collaboration with our colleagues at Johnson & Johnson and the Biden administration, we will work together to enable more timely delivery of much needed medicines and vaccines for the pandemic.
Ken Frazier: (04:12)
Now, some observers may view this corporate partnership as the coming together of rivals, but in these extraordinary times, we are colleagues, not competitors. The funding made available by the Biden administration will enable us to adapt our manufacturing facilities for the production of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines, including Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. With the support of the Biden administration, and specifically the DPA, we will expedite the modification of our equipment. Again, I want to thank President Biden, Alex Gorsky, and his colleagues at Johnson & Johnson for their remarkable scientific achievements, and my colleagues within Merck for helping to facilitate this important partnership. And now, it is my distinct honor to introduce the man who’s brought the full weight of the federal government to bear in fighting this virus, President Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden: (05:18)
Well, I thank you both for those words. You and I knew one another when I wasn’t president and you weren’t a chairman. We’d ride back and forth on Amtrak. He lived in Philadelphia. I was commuting to Wilmington. It’s good to see you both here, and thank both of you for your kind words. I want to thank the scientists and researchers at Johnson & Johnson for the literal heroic effort that began when COVID-19 first spread, and led to the safe and effective vaccine that are now being co-produced.
President Joe Biden: (06:08)
Today we’re seeing two health companies, competitors, each with over 130 years of experience, coming together to help write a more hopeful chapter in our battle against COVID-19. I just had an opportunity to meet with both of these CEOs and with their senior operating officers, and to hear about the work they’re doing together to produce vaccine [inaudible 00:06:32] and accelerate what they call to take it to full finish. What’s clear is this is a historic, nearly unprecedented collaboration.
President Joe Biden: (06:45)
During World War II, one of the country’s slogans was, “We are all in this together.” We’re all in this together. And the companies took that slogan to heart. For example, one automaker didn’t have the capacity to build enough Jeeps. The competitors stepped in to help. Competing airline makers teamed up and they produced parts for each other and gave the American pilots, as a consequence of that, control of the skies. Today, we’re seeing the same type of collaboration when it comes to getting this virus under control. I said we had to treat this like a war. So I want to thank the two companies for showing how we can come together and defeat this virus by putting patriotism and public health first. And I mean that literally, putting patriotism and public health first.
President Joe Biden: (07:37)
Your companies have been working closely with a man you have both privately [inaudible 00:07:42] bragged about, Jeff Zients. Jeff is in the front row here. I want to thank you, Jeff, and the entire COVID team you put together for the coordination of our COVID-19 response, and Dr. David Kessler and his team at the Department of Health and Human Services. You know, when I came into office, we began working with the team of J & J to accelerate and add capacity to their manufacturing and production efforts, and it quickly became clear that Merck, one of the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers, was in a position to be the partner we needed in this effort, in this war time effort.
President Joe Biden: (08:19)
I’ve not hesitated to use my power under the Defense Production Act to expedite critical materials in vaccine production, such as equipment, machinery, and supplies. And it’s not just Johnson & Johnson and Merck. Pfizer, Moderna also work closely with us to help speed up the delivery of millions more doses. The result is that we’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of May, months earlier than anyone expected. And today, I’m directing Jeff and my HHS team to produce another 100 million doses and purchase another 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
President Joe Biden: (09:04)
I’m doing this because in these war time efforts, we need maximum flexibility. There’s always a chance that we’ll encounter unexpected challenges or there’ll be a new need for a vaccine effort or vaccination effort. A lot can happen, a lot can change, and we need to be prepared. And of course, we need to match the miracle of science and the skill of manufacturing with the massive logistical undertaking of vaccinating over 300 million Americans. Already, we have gone from Johnson & Johnson vaccine authorization to shots in the arm in three days.
President Joe Biden: (09:41)
I was telling the gentlemen, we were at a facility yesterday, a veterans outreach, and there were three members of the veterans community getting shots. One was getting of each of the three vaccines. And the guy in the middle, a veteran, was getting his, and I was standing about as far away as I am from you and standing up. And he was sitting down, and as the nurse put it in his arm, he went, “J&J, just one.” Well, there’s millions of people who are going to feel that way and be proud to be in a position, an ability to get the kind of help they need.
President Joe Biden: (10:25)
Seven weeks ago, only 8% of the seniors, those most vulnerable to COVID-19, had received the vaccination. Today, 60% of the people over the age of 65 or older have received at least one shot. And that’s because this is the population that represents 80% of the COVID-19 deaths. We’ve opened support and opened, excuse me, and supported more than 500 community vaccination sites, and they’re administering hundreds of thousands of shots a day. And for folks who aren’t near a pharmacy or mass vaccination center, we’re deploying mobile clinics, like vans that go into places to meet the folks where they live.
President Joe Biden: (11:13)
We’re also supplying vaccines to community health centers to reach those who have been hit the hardest and suffered the most, especially Black, Latino, Native American, and rural communities. And this is important, because we know we have more to do to ensure everyone is treated with equity and those most impacted get the care they deserve. On Saturday, we hit a record of 2.9 million vaccinations in one day in America, and beyond the numbers are the stories. The father who says he no longer fears for his daughter when she leaves to go to work at the hospital. The children who are now able to hug their grandparents. The vaccines bring hope and healing in so many ways.
President Joe Biden: (11:58)
Again, a vaccinated American is the only way to beat the pandemic, get our economy back on track, and for us to get back our lives and our loved ones. That’s why the American Rescue Plan was so critical. I want to thank Speaker Pelosi and the House of Representatives today for passing the bill. And I will be signing it into law shortly. This bill represents a historic, historic victory for the American people. I look forward to signing it later this week. Everything in the American Rescue Plan addresses a real need, including investments to fund our entire vaccination effort, more vaccines, more vaccinators, and more vaccination sites.
President Joe Biden: (12:43)
Millions more Americans will get tested, including home testing. Schools will soon have the funding and resources to reopen safely, a national imperative. The American Rescue Plan, the partnership between Johnson & Johnson and Merck proves we can do big things, important things in this country.
President Joe Biden: (13:05)
Let me conclude with this. Tomorrow night, I’m going to in prime time address the American people and talk about what we’ve been through as a nation this past year. But more importantly, I’m going to talk about what comes next. I’m going to launch the next phase of the COVID response and explain what we will do as a government and what we’ll ask of the American people. There is light at the end of this dark tunnel of the past year, but we cannot let our guard down now or assume the victory is inevitable. Together, we’re going to get through this pandemic and usher in a healthier and more hopeful future.
President Joe Biden: (13:44)
So there is real reason for hope, folks. There’s real reason for hope. I promise you. May God bless you all. May God protect our troops, and may God ease the pain in the heart of so many who have lost so many people in this pandemic. Thank you. And I really, we’re going to do this. We’re going to get it done. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (14:06)
Mr. President, what do you plan to do with the surplus? What will you do with the surplus?
President Joe Biden: (14:14)
The surplus will, if we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world. We’ve already decided we’re going to work with the [inaudible 00:14:24]. We’ve committed four billion dollars to help get the funding for more vaccines around the world. This is not something that can be stopped by a fence, no matter how high you build a fence or a wall. So we’re not going to be ultimately safe until the world is safe. And so we’re going to start off making sure Americans are taken care of first, but we’re then going to try to help the rest of the world. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (14:46)
Is there a crisis at the border, sir?