ONE statement ahead of FDA decision on J&J COVID-19 vaccine

WASHINGTON – The ONE Campaign released the below statement ahead of the Food and Drug Administration’s decision on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to obtain emergency use approval today.

In ONE’s updated Vaccine Access Test 2.0 (set for release on March 1) which assesses how well governments and pharmaceutical companies are improving global access to COVID-19 vaccines, Johnson & Johnson is ranked 5th among the 10 companies scored.

Tom Hart, North America executive director at The ONE Campaign:

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is welcome news and a positive step towards ending this global pandemic. As the latest COVID-19 variants remind us, the longer this pandemic persists anywhere, the more likely it is that new variants will arise and extend the life of this crisis everywhere. It’s in everyone’s interest to get vaccines distributed equitably as quickly as possible.

“This news marks another important milestone: the United States has secured enough doses of the five leading vaccines in its pipeline to inoculate the entire US population and have at least 453 million doses to spare. It’s urgent that the Biden administration establish a framework and timeline to distribute excess doses to countries who need it while simultaneously vaccinating the US’ domestic population.”

Background: 

In ONE’s soon-to-be released Vaccine Access Test 2.0, Johnson and Johnson scored in the middle of the pack among pharmaceutical companies when it comes to advancing global vaccine access. The company’s actions thus far, such as committing to not-for-profit pricing and committing 100 million vaccine doses to COVAX, have proven a dedication to equitable outcomes, but the company can do more to advance equity. The company can improve its score by engaging in technology transfers and by using its political capital to advocate for equity.

Global access to vaccines will save lives and make all of us safer. Research shows that in a scenario where a vaccine is not distributed fairly, twice as many people could die as the virus continues to wreak havoc on the world. If a vaccine is distributed exclusively to high-income countries first, the world will only avoid 33% of COVID-19 related deaths. But, if a vaccine is distributed to every country on the globe proportionally to its population rather than prioritizing high-income countries, the world could avoid 61% of COVID-19 related deaths.

New analysis from ONE shows the US has purchased at least 453 million excess COVID-19 vaccine doses that could be used to vaccinate people in the world’s poorest countries. According to reports, the Biden administration plans to develop a framework to donate excess vaccine doses, but to date, no formal plan has been released. Experts warn that wealthy countries hoarding scarce vaccine doses could extend the lifespan of this pandemic. Leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have called on countries to allocate 4-5% of their vaccine doses to low-income countries.

Ensuring global access to a vaccine will not only end the pandemic sooner, but will boost the global economy. The economic cost of not distributing a vaccine everywhere would be enormous. A recent study found the global economy stands to lose as much as $9.2 trillion if governments fail to ensure developing economy access to COVID-19 vaccine.

The American people support global access to a vaccine around the world. An October 2020 poll of registered voters in the US found that 83 percent of Americans believe that healthcare workers, the elderly and at-risk groups anywhere in the world should be the first to get a COVID-19 vaccine, before healthy people in their own country.

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