Around 15 million J&J vaccine doses contaminated because of factory mix-up.

Johnson & Johnson provided this photo on December 2, 2020, which shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Source: The Indian Express)

15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine got contaminated in Baltimore. Several weeks ago, workers at the plant accidentally conflated the ingredients of two coronavirus vaccines. It has forced regulators to delay authorization of the plant’s production lines. Emergent BioSolutions, the plant which is the manufacturing partner to both Johnson & Johnson and the British-Swedish company, AstraZeneca, whose vaccine has yet to be allowed for use in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the matter and future shipments of Johnson & Johnson doses that have been delayed in the United States. It is a major embarrassment for both Johnson & Johnson as its vaccine has been credited with speeding up the national immunization program. And for Emergent (its subcontractor), which has faced fierce criticism for its heavy lobbying for federal contracts. This problem arose in a new plant. The federal government enlisted this plant to produce both J&J doses and AstraZeneca’s vaccines. They used similar technology in both the vaccines where genes unique to the coronavirus are injected into human cells, which causes the immune system to produce antibodies. The mistake does not affect the current delivered J&J vaccine doses, including the shipments arriving next week. They have produced the currently delivered doses in the Netherlands, where operations have got approved by federal regulators.

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