Why the Production of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Is On Hold

Beth Baumann
Posted: Mar 31, 2021 10:30 PMWhy the Production of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Is On Hold

Source: AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Future production of the Johnson & Johnson Wuhan coronavirus vaccine has been put on hold after it was discovered that “human error” ruined 15 million doses of the vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating what took place at a plant in Baltimore where Emergent BioSolutions employees accidentally mixed up vaccine ingredients. 

According to The New York Times, Emergent BioSolutions is a fulfillment contract company that both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have utilized to ramp up production. Over the next month, 24 million doses of the single-dose vaccine were supposed to be produced in the Baltimore facility. 

From The Times:

The problems arose in a new plant that the federal government enlisted last year to produce vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. The two vaccines use the same technology employing a harmless version of a virus — known as a vector — that is transmitted into cells to make a protein that then stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies. But Johnson and Johnson’s and AstraZeneca’s vectors are biologically different and not interchangeable.

In late February, one or more workers somehow confused the two during the production process, raising questions about training and supervision.

Johnson & Johnson doses that have been manufactured and distributed up until this point, regulators say, are safe since they were produced in another line in the Netherlands. The mistakes are solely from the Baltimore plant.

The Biden administration is still expected to reach its goal of having enough vaccines for every American beginning May 1.