USA halts AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine production at Baltimore plant

Coronavirus Vaccine and syringe are seen in front of displayed Johnson & Johnson logo

"The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on adolescents, not just with the complications of the disease, but with their education, mental health, and wellbeing", said Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, in a statement Friday.

The United States government blocking AstraZeneca from using the Baltimore factory that botched 15 million coronavirus vaccine doses, and placed its rival Johnson and Johnson exclusively in charge of the facility instead. The Health and Human Services Department has directed that the AstraZeneca vaccine will now be produced at another plant, although the official did not specify where.

The New York Times had reported that Emergent employees mixed up J&J's and AstraZeneca's vaccines. But the Emergent BioSolutions plant at the heart of the issue has faced scrutiny for its shortcomings from federal regulators before. No vaccine it has produced has been used in USA vaccination efforts so far. The mistake happened weeks ago, and none of the doses were distributed.

The episode shows that Emergent's quality control systems are working, he said.

Had this portion of ingredients been approved it would have contributed to vaccine production.

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Experts in vaccine manufacturing said that in the past, the F.D.A. had a rule to prevent such mishaps by not allowing a plant to make two live viral vector vaccines, because of the potential for mix-ups and contamination. "We isolated this batch and it will be disposed of properly".

"This quality control process identified one batch of drug substance that did not meet quality standards at Emergent Biosolutions".

Emergent's Bayview plant is still waiting on an FDA manufacturing green light, though the company has already been producing millions of doses and shipping them to J&J's fill-finish partner Catalent, which itself snared authorization last week.

A total of 100 million J&J doses are pledged for the United States by late May or June.

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