A batch of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine being produced at a Baltimore facility "did not meet quality standards," the company said in a statement on Wednesday, March 31. This has caused delays in the production and the rollout of the vaccine in the U.S.
The issue was first reported by the New York Times (NYT) on Wednesday, who explained that one batch of the vaccine comprising up to 15 million doses had been compromised as its ingredients were mixed up during the production process in late February.
The plant is run by Emergent BioSolutions, and so far, the mistake is being placed on human error.
After informing federal regulators, Johnson & Johnson said it's increased quality control and training at the facility, so as to prevent any further errors from happening.
The batch never left the facility, so currently, no deployed batches of the vaccine have been compromised.
That's all fine and well, but this is quite an embarrassing moment for both Johnson & Johnson and Emergent, as the U.S. and other nations rush to get as many doses of COVID-19 vaccines safely out to their populations.
What happens next?
Johnson & Johnson was due to deliver 24 million doses of its one-dose vaccine across the nation this month — all from the Baltimore plant in question. However, these deliveries are now being put into question as major quality control checks need to first take place before they're shipped out, says the NYT.
So far, Johnson & Johnson delivered 20 million doses by the end of March and plans to deliver a further 75 million doses before the end of May.
This goes hand in hand with Biden administration's timeline to deliver enough COVID-19 vaccines for every U.S. adult by the end of May, which will apparently not be affected, reported NBC News.
Johnson & Johnson has to first satisfy the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it can carry on rolling out its vaccine from the Baltimore plant, though.
This is a clear example of how just one error can contribute to millions of doses being compromised in a production line process. However, it sounds like the case is being closely monitored and hopefully, everything should be back on track soon.