As far as pharmaceutical giants pining to roll out the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine is concerned, the race is very much on. The SARS-CoV-2 continues to be lauded as the most time-sensitive crisis of our modern era, and CEOs of various drug companies are not hiding the fact that they are putting safety to the back-burner of their production schedule. If anything, they even appear to be praising such a risky practice, and ultimately seem to be gleaning some notable rewards for doing so.
Johnson & Johnson’s chief scientist Paul Stoffels has revealed that the company will be spending $500 million to research and develop a vaccine (which, incidentally, is part of a $1 billion partnership with the US government). Stoffels announced that his company aims to begin production within the next few weeks “before the vaccine has gone through clinical trials or been approved by the FDA.” The reasoning behind this rush for manufacturing, as Stoffels explains, is to ensure that there are sizeable quantities ready for consumption – assuming they ultimately get approved. While admitting that this is a generally unorthodox approach to vaccine development, Stoffels justifies this unprecedented reverse-order for the reason that “the crisis is so big that we have to organize ourselves differently and get going…(Forbes, March 30).”
Stoffels also denies any profit-based ambitions in this blatant push for vaccine development. He claims that J&J are developing a vaccine that is essentially not for profit so that it is “more affordable and available on a global scale as quickly as possible.” He further stresses that this is “not about competition,” and that there essentially has to be “more trains on the rails to success here t