Emergent Biosolutions has been assisting in the production of Covid-19 vaccines for Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca for months, a source familiar with the situation told CNN on Saturday.
In addition to the batch of 15 million doses that had to be discarded, Emergent has successfully produced 115 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which are in various stages of the supply chain, the source said.
The source added that it’s “not that unusual” for the pharmaceutical industry to have to discard batches of vaccine, and the fact that Emergent and J&J detected the contamination before any of the impacted doses shipped “showed the system worked.”
More background: The federal government moved to stop any further risk of contamination at a Baltimore contract vaccine manufacturer where 15 million potential doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine were spoiled last month, telling rival drugmaker AstraZeneca it must move its production from the plant and find somewhere else to make its vaccine.
The Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore was making coronavirus vaccines under contract to both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. Last month, a batch of Johnson & Johnson "drug product" failed quality control and was taken out of production, both J&J and Emergent have said.
The federal government has directed Johnson & Johnson to fully take over its vaccine production at the plant, an administration official told CNN Saturday. The company confirmed it was taking tighter control of the production process.
The Emergent BioSolutions plant, which had been making doses of both Johnson & Johnson's vaccine as well as a vaccine made for AstraZeneca, will now only produce J&J vaccines, the official said. The Health and Human Services Department has directed that the AstraZeneca vaccine will now be produced at another plant, although the official did not specify where.
"Johnson & Johnson is assuming full responsibility regarding the manufacturing of drug substance for its COVID-19 vaccine at the Emergent BioSolutions Inc. Bayview facility," the company said in a statement emailed to CNN.