BALTIMORE, Md. (WDVM) — Emergent BioSolutions’ Baltimore facility was once a point of pride for Maryland, but following a massive mistake, the narrative has changed. 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine were recently thrown out following concerns over the quality of the batch.
Emergent’s Bayview facility has spent many weeks working to produce vaccines on behalf of both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. This dual partnership is what led to a major snag, as reports flowed out this week of workers conflating the ingredients for the two vaccines, leading to millions of wasted doses. According to officials, however, this shouldn’t be catastrophic for the United States’ vaccine rollout.
“Johnson & Johnson has made clear that they expect to deliver 24 million doses in April and that they expect to meet their commitment of 100 million doses by the end of May … but we also have plenty of doses from Pfizer and Moderna regardless,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary.
Governor Larry Hogan spoke on the incident during his Thursday press conference. While Hogan didn’t defend the Baltimore-based vaccine manufacturing plant, he did give credit to the FDA for their quality control process. He also said the city of Baltimore shouldn’t be held liable for the mistake.
“I don’t think it gives Baltimore a bad name. I mean, obviously, there was some major screw-up at this plant with human error of some type. I don’t know the details of it. I don’t think you can pin that on the city of Baltimore,” said Hogan.
For anyone who’s already gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, don’t worry about having received a bad dose. No J&J doses made by the Bayview plant have left the facility.
“This plant has not been FDA approved. It’s still going through a rigorous review,” said Psaki. “And J&J is, of course, working through that process to bring the facility online and gain authorization.”
This incident adds to the already-poor public perception of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which reports a lower efficacy rate than the two-dose vaccines.
This isn’t the first time emergent BioSolutions’ Baltimore facility has faced FDA scrutiny. Last April, an investigator found evidence of, among other things, improperly trained employees and a lack of strict testing procedures for the plant’s products.