April 3, 2020 | Access to Medicines


Analysis & Comment on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Pricing and Manufacturing Capacity 

Jessica Bassett (Health GAP): 1 518 593 7628| jessica@healthgap.org

Johnson & Johnson has announced that it intends to sell its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for 10 euros a dose, depending on production costs and volume. This would be a concessionary, no-profit price. Johnson & Johnson further reported that it might be able to produce 5-10 million doses by early 2021 and ramp up to 100-300 million doses by the end of that year, eventually reaching 1 billion doses. Its spokesperson further indicated that preference would probably be given first to frontline health workers and then to the elderly and other vulnerable populations. The company will surely discuss its vaccine candidate during its virtual annual meeting of shareholders on April 23rd.

Brook K. Baker, Health GAP Senior Policy Analyst and Professor at Northeastern University School of Law said: “Johnson & Johnson’s production capacity limitations illustrate why it is so important to promote open licensing and sharing of production know-how. We don’t yet know if this vaccine will be effective, but if it is, we know out of its own mouth that initial production will be limited to 5 million doses. Although they claim those supplies might be directed to health workers first, there are over 59 million health workers globally. It then goes on to say that J&J can produce 100-300 million doses over the course of 2021, eventually reaching 1 billion at some unspecified time. J&J suggests that older people might be prioritized, but there are approximately 1 billion people globally over 60 years of age. Then there is the imperative to reach people with underlying health conditions that render them more vulnerable to serious and fatal COVID-19.

“These numbers should convince decision-makers that waiting for J&J to scale-up single-source supply is a fool’s game. If J&J’s vaccine, or any other vaccine candidate is the best, then it should be produced massively and quickly by all qualified producers, and it’s important to start thinking about hardwiring this surge capacity as soon as possible.”

For more analysis of the current access to medicines landscape as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be interested in:

  • This paper, which makes the case for an emergency COVID-19 technology IP pool for all countries.
  • This blog post about how intense pressure is forcing drug companies to backtrack on monopolistic behaviors.