The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

J&J Stops COVID Vaccine Production for Higher Profits

Feb 14, 2022

Late last year, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) stopped production of its single-shot COVID vaccine at the only facility that makes the vaccine. In its place, J&J has begun to produce a much more profitable vaccine for another virus.

J&J says that it will resume the COVID vaccine production later this year. But J&J is already well behind its contracted deliveries. Since last summer, J&J had promised to deliver one billion COVID vaccine doses. Instead, it delivered only 400 million doses. This current production halt could easily reduce the supply by hundreds of millions of doses more. These badly needed but not delivered doses will cause countless preventable COVID-related illnesses and deaths, and increase the possibility of spreading another COVID virus variant.

The J&J vaccine has several advantages. It is a single shot. It is also easy to deliver, since it does not require ultracold refrigeration like Pfizer and Moderna’s two-shot mRNA vaccines. The J&J vaccine is also much less expensive. With the booster, the J&J vaccine provides strong and long-lasting protection against severe disease conditions across variants, including Omicron.

Because of such advantages, poorer countries with insufficient healthcare infrastructure, medical personnel, storage facilities, and transportation prefer the J&J vaccine over others. And in some countries, this vaccine is the only option.

But, although significant populations critically depend on the J&J vaccine, the company halted its production without telling anyone. J&J vaccine’s most important customers, the African Union and Covax, the organization responsible for getting vaccines to poor countries, learned about this vaccine production stoppage from the New York Times’ reporters last week. It was reporters who told Covax, before the Times article was finished.

The J&J vaccine generated about 2.4 billion dollars in sales last year. J&J expects to generate 10 billion annually from the new vaccine not related to COVID. Because this new vaccine will be much more profitable, J&J singlehandedly decided to stop the COVID vaccine production. Capitalism at its worst!