15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine destroyed in subcontractor mishap: report

On Wednesday, POLITICO reported that a catastrophic error by a Johnson & Johnson subcontractor led to 15 million doses of COVID-19 single-dose vaccine being rendered useless.

"Johnson & Johnson had hired the company, Emergent BioSolutions, to manufacture the active ingredient, or drug substance, of the vaccine at its plant in West Baltimore," reported Erin Blanco, Sarah Owermohle, and Rachel Roubein. "Workers at the facility mistakenly mixed ingredients for the J&J vaccine with those of another manufacturer's coronavirus shot, according to the two officials."

"The Biden administration has asked Johnson & Johnson to directly supervise Emergent's vaccine production going forward, said a senior administration official. Getting the facility back on track — and up to regulatory standards — could take a matter of days or weeks, the official added," said the report. "The incident at the plant prompted the Food and Drug Administration to delay approving Emergent to help Johnson & Johnson produce vaccine; the company had sought permission via an amendment to the emergency use authorization for its shot."

In spite of these setbacks, the vaccine effort is ahead of schedule, with the Biden administration doubling its goal to 200 million shots in arms within the first 100 days. One of the main challenges on the horizon will be persuading Americans reluctant to vaccinate to do so, particularly Republicans.

The incident at the plant prompted the Food and Drug Administration to delay approving Emergent to help Johnson & Johnson produce vaccine; the company had sought permission via an amendment to the emergency use authorization for its shot.