An estimated 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine have been contaminated at a plant in the United States’ Baltimore city. According to The New York Times, the mix-up happened after workers at the plant accidentally combined ingredients of two vaccines into one, making them essentially ineffective and unsafe for use. The error was reportedly identified before the affected batch could be sent for bottling and final manufacturing process.
According to the report, the mistake has been attributed to human error by federal officials, who are working to determine the exact cause of the mix-up. The contamination occurred at a plant run by Emergent BioSolutions, which is manufacturing vaccine doses for Johnson & Johnson and British firm AstraZeneca, which is yet to secure an emergency use authorisation (EUA) in the United States.
As per the report, the mix-up initially occurred in February but went undetected until recently when Johnson & Johnson’s quality control officials uncovered it. From the time the contamination occurred and before it was detected, 15 million doses had already been produced by Emergent BioSolutions at their plant.
The error is expected to affect the vaccine distribution plan of the US government, which is dependent on manufacturers for quick delivery of doses so it could immunise as many people as possible. According to reports, further shipments of J&J vaccine doses were expected to come from the Baltimore plant, which is now under scrutiny over safety concerns and delivery of doses may be delayed. However, J&J has said that the error is unlikely to impact their plan of delivering 1 billion doses by the end of 2021.
The United States remains the most affected country in the world with more than 30 million COVID-19 cases and over 5,52,000 deaths so far from the disease. The country began administering COVID-19 vaccines late last year and to date, it has given at least one dose to nearly 150 million people. The US would like to keep up its speed for which it would require timely delivery of doses by manufacturers.