A Maryland-based government contractor, Emergent BioSolutions, recently ruined 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine during production as well as vaccines it was producing for AstraZeneca, ruining the opportunity for millions to receive the COVID vaccine. On top of this, it was revealed through securities filings that Emergent’s chief executive, Robert G. Kramer, sold more than $10 million worth of his stock in the company mere weeks before their stocks fell by 50% in response to the botched vaccine production.
While the company claims that this selling of stocks was in accordance with a trading plan adopted in November, it was also unveiled that Emergent was having production problems as early as October, including inadequate training, failure to follow testing procedures, and contamination. Not only does this show the company cutting corners to make as much money as possible off of a pandemic, but it also seems that Kramer knew about the botched vaccines and was selling out to capitalize on the company’s mistakes while millions must suffer without the vaccines they were expecting to receive.
And this isn’t the first time. Back in 2016, Kramer along with other executives sold a significant number of Emergent stock shares after misleading the public about the scale of their production of an anthrax vaccine and falling short of their promises.
Despite Kramer and other Emergent executives’ claims of following “the highest ethical standards,” this blatant act of making millions of dollars off of mistakes, while those in need of a vaccine pay the price, shows in plain sight the outrageous inequalities that are allowed and designed to exist under capitalism. Rather than taking responsibility for what happened, Kramer instead gets away 10 million dollars richer. Kramer is a shining example of how capitalists, while holding the power and money over their workers, will cut all corners, exploit any and every situation possible, and try to avoid facing the risks and accountability they claim to confront.
It is obvious that we don’t need the Kramers or any of these executives to make our vaccines, provide the health care we need, or any of the goods we need to survive. In fact, they hinder our production and ignore the actual needs of the vast majority of us, all while benefiting off of our labor. The workers of Emergent would be much better off making their own decisions about how our vaccines get produced without executives treating these life-saving treatments as meaningless tokens in a game to get ahead. We would all be much better off.