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What happened to the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine?

READING TIME ~ 3 MINUTES

Last Wednesday, on March 31st, it was revealed that a certain batch of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was contaminated with ingredients from AstraZeneca and their vaccines which, as of today, are still undergoing trials. This certain batch was traced back to a plant in Baltimore, Maryland, which was managed by Emergent BioSolutions, a company tasked by the government to be a large supplier of the newer vaccines. Thankfully, the error was found just before the filling and finishing stages of the substance. After the resulting 15 million doses were recalled, the FDA launched an investigation into this Emergent plant that was the source of the mishap.

The Emergent BioSolutions lab in Baltimore, Maryland (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Key Questions To Consider:

  1. What exactly caused the recall of these vaccines?
  2. What impact do these recalls have on the reliability of the FDA’s emergency authorizations?

1: What Exactly Caused the Recall of These Vaccines?

As mentioned earlier, the recall stemmed from one plant in Baltimore, headed by Emergent BioSolutions. Once the FDA launched an investigation into the plant and the company behind it, they found that the plant had not even been cleared to produce and distribute the Johnson and Johnson vaccine due to not keeping up with the FDA rules and regulations, more specifically the measure that was specifically instituted to “prevent contamination or mix-ups”. Furthermore, employees did not have adequate experience, and the testing procedures were subpar. Of course, the specifics of these are somewhat under the radar, as the FDA is not allowed to comment on specific situations regarding their manufacturers. In summary, the main cause of the vaccine recall was due to the lack of experience and competence in the Emergent plant, mired with past FDA violations and transgressions yet still somehow allowed to produce these vaccines.

An Emergent BioSolutions lab worker in Baltimore, tasked with the production of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

2: What impact do these recalls have on the reliability of the FDA’s emergency authorizations?

Of course, this recall raises concerns over the reliability as well as the transparency of Johnson and Johnson, as well as other vaccine companies like Pfizer and Moderna. Regardless, this event should have no bearing whatsoever on the necessity to receive the vaccine, as this event was simply a mishap that was also recognized before the vaccines were even made. Therefore, it is evident that this event in particular should not affect the reliability of the FDA’s authorizations, and the populace should continue to take the vaccine, a stance backed by scientists and existing data from all three major vaccines.


TL;DR

  • On March 31st, it was revealed that there was a recall of what turned out to be 15 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, all stemming from the same plant.
  • This certain plant was from Emergent BioSolutions, a company tasked with the production of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines, and the plant was located in Baltimore, Maryland. It had various FDA violations and was not cleared by the FDA to produce these vaccines.
  • The recall was made before the vaccine substance was put into doses, and is a common situation in certain plants across the nation. However, this should not affect the reliability of any of the vaccines authorized by the FDA.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/04/01/emergent-jj-vaccine-plant-inspection/

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/04/johnson-johnson-15-million-dose-error-how-bad.html

https://www.jnj.com/johnson-johnson-statement-on-u-s-covid-19-vaccine-manufacturing

https://www.nbcboston.com/news/coronavirus/will-the-ruined-batch-of-johnson-johnson-vaccines-impact-mass-heres-what-we-know/2344260/

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