US Puts Johnson & Johnson In Charge Of Troubled Vaccine Plant In Baltimore, Removes AstraZeneca

US Puts Johnson & Johnson In Charge Of Troubled Vaccine Plant In Baltimore, Removes AstraZeneca

Johnson & Johnson has been put in charge of COVID-19 vaccine production at a Baltimore plant where 15 million doses were ruined several weeks ago.

What Happened

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services put Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) in charge of the Emergent BioSolutions Inc (EBS) plant in Baltimore. The department has also stopped British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) from using the facility, to avoid future mistakes, Reuters reports. The plant now will only produce a single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson confirmed the move and said it was "assuming full responsibility regarding the manufacturing of drug substance" at Emergent. "Specifically, the company is adding dedicated leaders for operations and quality, and significantly increasing the number of manufacturing, quality, and technical operations personnel to work with the company specialists already at Emergent," Johnson & Johnson said.

Johnson & Johnson has already strengthened its control over Emergent BioSolutions' work to avoid additional quality lapses. AstraZeneca said that it would work with the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to find an alternative site for its vaccine production, which has not yet been authorized in the U.S.

The change comes after the disclosure that Emergent workers accidentally conflated the ingredients of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines several weeks ago, contaminating up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. This caused regulators to delay authorization of the facility's vaccine production. Emergent is a manufacturing partner to both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. 

Why It Matters

According to the New York Times, U.S. officials are concerned that the mishap at the Emergent plant could dampen public confidence in the vaccines. The mix-up has delayed future shipments of Johnson & Johnson doses in the U.S. while the FDA is investigating the incident.

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