15M Ruined Vaccines at Plant Leads to J&J Takeover

Johnson & Johnson will now oversee production at Baltimore facility that was making its doses
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2021 6:44 AM CDT
15M Ruined Vaccines at Plant Leads to J&J Takeover
In this March 25, 2021, file photo, a box of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is shown in a refrigerator at a clinic in Washington state.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

An Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore that had been tasked with churning out Johnson & Johnson vaccines has now earned the dubious honor of a takeover at the facility after about 15 million doses were ruined. Per CBS Baltimore, J&J announced Saturday it would be assuming "full responsibility" at the site known as Bayview, specifically by adding "dedicated leaders" to the quality and operations team at the plant, as well as more workers to the manufacturing, technical, and quality crews. The Washington Post notes the marred doses came about after ingredients for the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines were mixed up, as the plant makes both. Senior federal health officials tell the New York Times that the Department of Health and Human Services directed J&J to take charge of the site's vaccine manufacturing and production after the error was discovered.

One official tells NPR that HHS and the FDA feel it's "most appropriate" for the plant to now only produce the J&J vaccine; the government will help AstraZeneca find a new site for production. The plant hasn't yet been certified by the FDA to make the J&J vaccine, and a history of past "multiple internal failings" has plagued the Bayview site. On Thursday, Emergent issued a statement that noted its "rigorous quality checks" had found the bad batch of vaccine as the system was meant to, and that throwing out batches happens periodically during vaccine production, per the Post. No tainted J&J doses had yet reached the public, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden's chief medical adviser, per CBS. Johnson & Johnson had originally pledged to deliver 100 million doses by the end of next month. On Monday, Emergent noted it was still "on track with all commitments for COVID-19 vaccines," per MarketWatch. J&J has issued a similar assurance in its own statement. (More Johnson & Johnson stories.)

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