J&J COVID vaccine factory forced to trash even more doses

WASHINGTON (AP) — About 135 million more doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine from a troubled Baltimore factory will have to be destroyed due to quality problems, Congressional panel leaders said Thursday.

The announcement follows a report in May that detailed how more than 400 million vaccine doses made at an Emergent BioSolutions plant had to be trashed. The doses more recently slated for destruction were made between August 2021 and February, the House members said.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement Thursday that no doses produced at the site since the factory restarted have reached the market, and it was ending its agreement with Emergent.

The doses had been set aside after they were made. The panel said J&J told it that a batch of the shots failed inspection, which rendered all of them unusable.

The factory’s problems have hurt vaccinations in areas of the world where vaccines are still in short supply, said U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and COVID-19 subcommittee chairman.

Emergent said it has been “open and forthcoming” about the factory’s challenges. It noted that J&J took control of the plant after problems first emerged and that J&J was in charge until manufacturing stopped there earlier this year.

The problem-plagued Baltimore factory was initially shut down by the Food and Drug Administration in early 2021 due to contamination. The government then allowed production to resume in August 2021.

J&J’s vaccine was one of three initially authorized by U.S. regulators more than a year ago to protect against COVID-19. But the government has since strictly limited who can receive the shot due to a small risk of rare but serious blood clots.

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