According to a recent and seemingly overlooked report in the New York Times, Johnson & Johnson has quietly shut down all of its COVID-19 vaccine production in the past two months. According to the report, the company ceased production of its COVID-19 vaccine as late as the end of 2021.
The report adds that the company has switched its facility to produce an experimental and “potentially more profitable” vaccine that has no relation to COVID-19 or the pandemic, but details of that project are not publicly known.
The stoppage is supposedly temporary, with the plant scheduled to return to COVID-19 vaccine production in the upcoming months.
A spokesperson from Johnson & Johnson said that the company currently has a stockpile of “millions” of vaccines in storehouses, but refused to confirm or deny any halt in production of such vaccines.
“Our manufacturing sites produce multiple products as we have an obligation to supply life-changing medicines to patients around the world and bring forward our innovative pipeline of new medicines and vaccines,” said the spokesperson. “We manage our production planning accordingly and are currently supplying from our extensive global network based on the demand for our vaccine and the needs of our patients and customers.”
The unexpected action by the company “blindsided” officials from two of the company’s largest customers, those being Covax and the African Union, sparking some concern.
Dr. Ayoade Alakija, one of the heads of the African Union’s vaccine delivery program, said that it was a very bad time to be switching production away from COVID-19 vaccines, suggesting that the company was acting irresponsibly as people’s lives “hang in the balance.”
Poorer countries, reportedly more reliant on vaccines to alleviate mass illness, are especially dependent on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which doesn’t require the same degree of subzero temperature storage.
Dr. Penny Heaton, an executive at Johnson & Johnson, explained last December that “our vaccine is the most important… sometimes the only option [for]… many low- and middle-income countries… the world is depending on us.”
Author: Karen Greene