US puts J&J in charge of plant that failed COVID vaccine, removes AstraZeneca

(Reuters) – The United States put Johnson and Johnson in charge of a plant that ruined 15 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine and has prevented British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc from using the facility, a senior health official said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: A vial with AstraZeneca’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is displayed in Berlin, Germany, on March 16, 2021. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke / File Photo

J&J said it was “taking full responsibility” for the Emergent BioSolutions facility in Baltimore, reiterating that it will deliver 100 million doses to the government by the end of May.

The Department of Health and Human Services facilitated the move, the health official said in an email, requesting not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

AstraZeneca, whose vaccine has not been approved in the United States, said it will work with the administration of President Joe Biden to find an alternative site to produce its vaccine.

White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The development, first reported by the New York Times, further hampers AstraZeneca’s efforts in the United States. The government has criticized the drugmaker for using outdated data in the results of its vaccine trial. He later revised his study.

Workers at the Emergent BioSolutions plant combined ingredients for the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines several weeks ago, the Times said earlier in the week. J&J said that at that time the ruined batch had not advanced to the fill and finish stage.

The government’s move to have the facility manufacture only the single-dose J&J vaccine is intended to avoid future confusion, the Times said, citing two top federal health officials.

America’s top infectious disease doctor told Reuters on Thursday that the country may not need the AstraZeneca vaccine, even if it gets approval.

The United States has loan agreements to ship to Mexico and Canada approximately 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured at its facilities in the United States.

Report from Shubham Kalia and Vishal Vivek in Bengaluru; Additional reporting from Steve Holland in Washington; Edited by David Gregorio and William Mallard


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