Millions of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Doses Ruined Due to Factory Mix-Up

Approximately 15 million doses of the vaccine had to be disposed after workers conflated the ingredients.

April 1, 2021
2 min read

Nearly 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were lost several weeks ago after workers at a Baltimore plant confused the ingredients, according to the New York Times. 

Federal officials said that employees at Emergent BioSolutions — a manufacturer that works with both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca — conflated the pharmaceutical companies’ technologies used to create vaccines. Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca employ different methods of inserting a harmless version of the Covid-19 virus into cells that then create a protein that stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies. 

Related: FDA Says Johnson & Johnson’s One-Dose Vaccine Is Safe and Effective

The Times reports that the mix-up went unnoticed for days until Johnson & Johnson conducted a quality control check. Upon realizing the error, the pharmaceutical company purportedly quarantined the doses and notified federal regulators. Authorities have since delayed the authorization of Emergent’s production line as they carry out their investigation. 

According to the paper, Johnson & Johnson is now working with Emergent to ensure the mishap doesn’t occur again and has sent more staff members to Emergent’s Baltimore plant to monitor vaccine production. About 24 million doses of the vaccine were expected to come from the plant this month — a commitment Johnson & Johnson believes it can still fulfill. 

Regardless, authorities reportedly said they don’t believe the error will impact President Joe Biden’s goal to deliver enough vaccines to immunize every adult by the end of May.

While Johnson & Johnson is still lagging in its production of the vaccine, Pfizer is shipping doses ahead of schedule and Moderna is close to increasing the number of doses it can deliver in bundles.