Partnership With Merck Is a Start, But Johnson & Johnson Should Share Vaccine With The World

Sharing Single Dose Vaccine Recipe Would Ramp Up Vaccine Production, Shorten the Global Pandemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Johnson & Johnson should go beyond just partnering with Merck and commit to sharing its vaccine technology more widely with global manufacturers to increase production and supply and help end the pandemic, Public Citizen said today in a letter to the corporation.

“Johnson & Johnson and other vaccine makers should share their vaccine recipes with the world, so that global manufacturers can contribute to supply and potentially shorten the pandemic,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “No corporation, and no single corporate partnership, can produce at scale for the entire world. But we can free the technology and help teach the world to make safe and effective vaccines, in time to save potentially millions of lives.”

The letter notes that Johnson & Johnson has entered fewer partnerships than peers that rely on the same vaccine platform technology. For example, AstraZeneca/Oxford have partnered with 21 manufacturers to Johnson & Johnson’s eight. Public Citizen is asking for the corporation to further share technology, intellectual property and know-how with the World Health Organization (WHO), especially because the drug company benefitted from $2 billion in funding for the vaccine.

Sharing the vaccine recipe with WHO will particularly benefit developing countries, as only 200 million doses of the 1 billion doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine projected to be produced this year have been promised to low-income countries. Public Citizen has also asked the U.S. Congress to authorize $25 billion to scale-up production and help vaccinate the world, including for the NIH-Moderna vaccine.

“The world is experiencing a global vaccine apartheid; a humanitarian and moral catastrophe that will define our times,” said Maybarduk. “But this is not inevitable. If we share technology today, we will be able to vaccinate the world sooner and end the pandemic.”

Read Public Citizen’s letter here.