Washington | “Multiple batches” of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine from a Baltimore plant that had to be shut down a few weeks ago will need to be thrown away, US health officials said Friday.
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According to the New York Times, the decision concerns about 60 million doses.
In March, control tests already showed that 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine were wasted at the facility, operated by partner company Emergent BioSolutions.
In addition to the J&J vaccine, the AstraZeneca vaccine was then produced and the products in the second vaccine were mistakenly mixed with the first, contaminating those 15 million doses and making them unusable. They never left the factory to distribute, then they quieted the authorities.
The FDA then dispatched experts to the site to inspect the premises and the rest of the doses produced.
On Friday, the agency finally gave the green light to “two batches” of Johnson & Johnson’s plant-produced vaccines that can be used “in the United States or exported overseas.” This equates to 10 million doses, a source familiar with the situation told AFP.
On the contrary, “The FDA has determined that some other batches cannot be used,” she said. According to the New York Times, these are 60 million doses that the agency told the company to discontinue.
“Additional lots are still being studied,” the FDA said.
Production of AstraZeneca has been permanently discontinued from this plant, and production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been suspended pending a decision by the health authorities.
The FDA said Friday it is “not ready yet” to resume production there and “continue working on problems there” with representatives from Johnson & Johnson and Emerging BioSolutions.
In addition, at least 60 million doses of AstraZeneca, which were also produced in this plant, are still awaiting FDA approval for shipment overseas. The US government has pledged to transfer these doses to low-income countries in 80 million doses, which will be distributed by the end of June, mainly through the Covax sharing device.