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J&J Vaccine Shipments Halted After Contractor Ruins 15 Million Doses

Human error blamed for mix-up at Emergent BioSolutions plant that produced components of two different vaccines.
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A mix-up at an Emergent BioSolutions  (EBS) - Get Emergent Biosolutions Inc. Report manufacturing plant in Maryland ruined 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report COVID-19 vaccine, forcing a halt in deliveries from the plant, according to published reports.

The problem occurred about two weeks ago, after workers mixed up ingredients for the J&J vaccine with those for Astra Zeneca’s  (AZN) - Get AstraZeneca PLC Report, the New York Times reported. 

All shipments from the plant have been halted by the Food and Drug Administration, which is investigating the incident.

No currently distributed J&J vaccines were affected, but the plant is supposed to produce millions of the single-shot vaccines which are expected to help the United States ramp up its COVID-19 vaccinations in coming weeks.

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The J&J vaccine requires only a single shot, compared with two for vaccines from Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna Inc. Report and Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report.

Emergent BioSolutions signed a contract to product vaccine components for J&J last July in a deal valued at $480 million over the first two years, according to a statement issued at the time. The company has committed to manufacturing deals with several other pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines including Novavax  (NVAX) - Get Novavax Inc. Report, Vaxart Inc.  (VXRT) - Get Vaxart Inc. Report, and Humanigen  (HGEN) - Get Humanigen Inc. Report, Reuters reported.

In February, the company topped analyst estimates partly on the basis of its work producing vaccine components.

“Our differentiated CDMO [contract development and manufacturing organization] value proposition has been validated by our eight and counting CDMO COVID-19 partnerships and our growing pipeline and portfolio. We've carved out a leading position as a Tier 1 biologics CDMO organization,” CEO Robert Kramer said on a call with analysts at the time. 

Shares of Emergent BioSolutions fell $7.61, or 8.2%, to $85.30 in after-hours trading.