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Is Johnson & Johnson Now a Has-Been in the COVID Vaccine Market?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD - Updated Jun 22, 2021 at 5:57PM

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In some ways, yes.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.48%) was once viewed as a leader in the COVID-19 vaccine arena. However, various issues have changed that perception in the minds of some. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on June 9, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss whether or not J&J is now a has-been in the COVID-19 vaccine market.

Keith Speights: Reuters recently reported about another company, Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson is a big player in healthcare -- period. But they're one of the companies that has an authorized COVID-19 vaccine on the market.

Well, Reuters recently reported that demand for J&J's COVID-19 vaccine has stalled. With the prospects even that some doses could expire unused. Brian, what's the situation with Johnson & Johnson here, and is the company basically a has-been in the COVID-19 vaccine market, or can it turn things around?

Brian Orelli: Johnson & Johnson should have been a big winner here because it's a one-and-done vaccine, and it has easier storage requirements. It should have been a clear choice. But the lower efficacy and then probably, more importantly, the potential for blood clots have lowered demand.

I saw one stat that said it was, I don't know, as little as five percent of total vaccinations given are the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Johnson & Johnson has been trying to profit during the pandemic. It will presumably transfer the US order to the government and get paid. Then presumably the government would then donate the vaccine to other countries, especially in countries where it might be really difficult to get the patients back for their second vaccine. Johnson & Johnson is more beneficial there than in the United States.

I don't really think that Johnson & Johnson is set up to profit from the coronavirus post-pandemic anyway because their vaccine uses a virus to deliver DNA that encodes the coronavirus. I think they're likely to develop immunity to the viral vector, so any booster shots will become less and less effective with Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. That makes it one and done advantages, also it's one and done disadvantaged in that it probably isn't going to be used as a booster compared to the mRNA vaccines.

Speights: Maybe Johnson & Johnson isn't has been; it's a never was.

Orelli: Yeah.

Brian Orelli, PhD has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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