In another testament to the power of the free market, American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson said Monday it has developed a possible vaccine for the coronavirus and plans to initiate human trials by September so that the drug can be made available as soon as early next year.
J&J announced it is working on what CEO Alex Gorsky said is “a candidate that has a high degree — a probability — of being successful against the COVID-19 virus.”
The vaccine would be a game-changer, as the only way to stop the pandemic currently is through drastic social distancing measures, which have effectively shut down the United States and other countries that are battling the virus.
Gorsky explained on NBC’s “Today” that the company not only has a promising vaccine in the works, but also has the ability to “ramp up production of this in a relatively short period of time so that it can become available. That’s why we’re entering into this agreement with the government.”
The agreement Gorsky referred to is a deal between the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responsible for the development of vaccines to fight disease outbreaks, and J&J, which is working to successfully develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Together, the government and J&J have pledged a total of $1 billion to accelerate the development and production of a vaccine, according to a Johnson & Johnson news release, which said the company is working toward “the goal of providing global supply of more than one billion doses of a vaccine.
“The Company expects to initiate human clinical studies of its lead vaccine candidate at the latest by September 2020 and anticipates the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorization in early 2021, a substantially accelerated timeframe in comparison to the typical vaccine development process,” the statement said.
Gorsky promised the company will make sure that as many people have access to the vaccine as possible.
“We’re going to be investing more than a billion dollars, accelerating the clinical development as well as the production, and we want to make sure the patients, certainly here in the United States but around the world, can get access in a very affordable way,” he said.
“In fact, we’re going to make sure that we’re offering this at a not-for-profit basis here in the United States and around the globe.”
Gorsky called the rapid development a vaccine a “moonshot” for his company.
“What would usually take 5 to 7 years, we expect to be able to accomplish in five to seven months,” he said.
“We’re working right now on early tests that tend to be very predictive of how these vaccines are eventually going to work in humans and we want to, first of all, make sure that they’re safe, that the platform is safe, that it can be effective.”
This kind of progress demonstrates the perfect symbiotic relationship that can exist between government and private industry when both are allowed to operate as designed.
The government does not have to mandate that companies do their part, but instead can incentivize when necessary or simply leave the private sector alone when it is working.
For all the talk about the supposed need for President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act and take over the means of production for critical coronavirus supplies, private industry has already taken the initiative.
The apparel company Fanatics, for instance, has switched from manufacturing sports gear to producing face masks and hospital gowns.
“We’re proud to partner with @MLB to support emergency personnel who are fighting against COVID-19 and face a need for masks and hospital gowns. We’re utilizing our manufacturing plant in Easton, PA to make masks and gowns out of the same jersey fabric that the players wear,” the company tweeted last week.
We’re proud to partner with @MLB to support emergency personnel who are fighting against COVID-19 and face a need for masks and hospital gowns. We’re utilizing our manufacturing plant in Easton, PA to make masks and gowns out of the same jersey fabric that the players wear pic.twitter.com/5jEg1B2iUa
— Fanatics (@Fanatics) March 26, 2020
Ford Motor Company, which previously pledged to help make ventilators, had an exciting announcement about their progress Monday.
“Starting in April, we’re producing a ventilator with @GEHealthcare, leveraging the design of @AironCorp’s FDA-cleared ventilator. It’s designed to operate on air pressure without electricity, making it a versatile solution to help those fighting #COVID19,” Ford tweeted.
Starting in April, we’re producing a ventilator with @GEHealthcare, leveraging the design of @AironCorp’s FDA-cleared ventilator. It’s designed to operate on air pressure without electricity, making it a versatile solution to help those fighting #COVID19. #BuiltFordProud pic.twitter.com/DtsB0fPGe0
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) March 30, 2020
Companies that previously made alcohol for consumption are not producing hand sanitizer after the country’s supply was gobbled up in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.
We are making hand sanitizer today. ?? Hard to believe all retailers in the area are still out-of-stock of something that is so simple to make and so vital in this crisis.#handsanitizer #coronavirus #covid_19 #craftspirits #whiskey #whisky #rum #oakland #california #brandy pic.twitter.com/nBlXLimmJU
— Wright & Brown Distilling Co. (@wrightandbrown) March 22, 2020
It seems that examples of the free market finding solutions are popping up every day, and J&J’s vaccine development is just the latest, and possibly most substantial, to date.
Critics might say that this unprecedented vaccine development is due to government incentives rather than the free market at work, but the government’s willingness to take on some the financial risk of creating and manufacturing an unproven vaccine is truly making a difference.
Normally, companies work for years to create and test new drugs and treatments at their own expense. Their only chance at recovering expenses and turning a profit is to sell a successful, approved product, which can take decades.
In this case, J&J is able to prioritize the vaccine without worrying as much about footing the bill if it doesn’t work — as evidenced by the fact that the government is co-funding the vaccine research. Not everything can be developed this way, but in a global pandemic like this one, it makes sense to allow the government to help out so the company can put aside other, more reliably profitable endeavors.
The coronavirus has been a powerful proving ground to dismantle so many liberal lies.
Totalitarian regimes such as China failed miserably at containing the virus and treating its citizens, while the United States remains equipped to handle the onslaught of new cases as citizens, government and private industry to fight the disease.
Despite liberals’ mistrust of for-profit industry and hatred of billionaires, private companies and wealthy individuals continue to go out of their way to help mankind in the face of this devastating crisis.
When citizens around the globe eventually roll up their sleeves to receive protection against the coronavirus, that inoculation may very well come courtesy of the freest, most prosperous nation in the world.
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