Report: Mix-up at Baltimore vaccine plant could interrupt shipments of J&J vaccine

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Some future shipments of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine in the United States have been delayed following a mix-up on the floor of a Baltimore manufacturing plant that ruined up to 15 million doses, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

It wasn’t clear how the interruption would affect future deliveries.

Delays could be a setback for Indiana and other states that have counted on the one-shot J&J vaccine as a growing part of their immunization mix, along with the two-shot doses of Pfizer and Moderna.

President Joe Biden has pledged to have enough vaccines for all U.S. adults by the end of May. The U.S. government has ordered enough two-dose shots from Pfizer and Moderna to vaccinate 200 million people to be delivered by late May, plus the 100 million shots from J&J.

A federal official told the Associated Press on Wednesday evening the administration’s goal can be met without additional J&J doses. In a statement on the manufacturing problem, J&J said it was still planning to deliver 100 million doses by the end of June and was “aiming to deliver those doses by the end of May.”

Scores of clinics and hospitals around Indiana use the J&J vaccine. It is also the exclusive vaccine for the drive-in mass vaccination clinics for 16 days in April at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which kicks off Thursday.

The Indiana Department of Health said it did not anticipate any issues supplying the IMS clinic at this time, but it provided no further comment.

At Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly press conference, held hours before The New York Times story broke, state officials said the federal government told Indiana earlier this week it can expect 96,500 doses of the J&J vaccine this week, along with 88,920 doses of Pfizer and 66,900 doses of Moderna.

So far, J&J has accounted for a small percentage of total vaccine doses administered in Indiana: less than 61,000, compared with 2.7 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines combined, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard.

The New York Times report said workers at the Baltimore plant that makes two coronavirus vaccines accidentally conflated their ingredients several weeks ago, ruining up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

However, the problem does not affect the J&J doses that are currently being delivered and used nationwide, the report said. All those doses were produced in the Netherlands, where operations have been fully approved by federal regulators.

But all further shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine—projected to total tens of millions of doses in the next month—were supposed to come from the massive Baltimore plant, the report said.

The Baltimore plant is run by Emergent BioSolutions, a manufacturing partner to J&J and AstraZeneca. Federal officials attributed the mistake to human error.

Pfizer and Moderna are continuing to deliver as expected.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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