Mix-up by company making J&J COVID-19 vaccine delays shipment

Brenda Watkins
April 1, 2021

U.S. officials said the vaccine spoilage will not impact plans to provide enough vaccine to immunize every adult by May.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said a batch of drug substance failed its quality test.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses that are now being shipped nationwide were produced in the Netherlands, where regulators have fully approved operations, The New York Times reported. Emergent BioSolutions has been tasked with producing vaccines for both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

"This quality control process identified one batch of drug substance that did not meet quality standards at Emergent Biosolutions, a site not yet authorized to manufacture drug substance for our COVID-19 vaccine", Johnson & Johnson added. While more than 1.3 million people are fully vaccinated, the state has reported lower vaccination levels among Latino and Black residents, even in predominantly nonwhite cities such as Springfield.

Johnson & Johnson said on Friday (29 January) that its single-dose vaccine was 66% effective in preventing COVID-19 in a large global trial against multiple variants which will give health officials another weapon to tackle the coronavirus.

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A federal official said Wednesday evening the administration's goal can be met without additional J&J doses.

These shipments contain exclusively the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is expected to accelerate the state's rate of fully vaccinating residents.

Johnson & Johnson is now expanding its presence in the Emergent BioSolutions facility, according to the statement.

Johnson & Johnson said it still plans to deliver 100 million by the end of June, "aiming to deliver those doses by the end of May".

The J&J vaccine has been viewed as crucial for vaccination campaigns around the world, because only one shot is required and it can be shipped and stored at standard refrigeration temperatures, unlike some other vials that must be kept frozen. The FDA said it was aware of the situation but declined further comment.

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