The UK will buy potential Covid-19 vaccines from US drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Novavax Inc, the companies said on Friday, bringing the total number of deals by the UK government to six as the race for shots heats up.

Johnson & Johnson said its Janssen Pharmaceutica unit will supply the UK government with its candidate known as Ad26.COV2.S with an initial sale of 30 million doses on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.

The advance purchase agreement will also provide an option for an additional purchase of up to a 22 million doses, it said.

J&J said it has also agreed to collaborate with the UK government on a global Phase 3 trial to explore the two-dose regimen of its vaccine candidate.

It will run parallel to the Phase 3 trial investigating the single-dose programme.

No vaccine has yet proven to work, but more than 20 candidates are in clinical trials.

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