Johnson & Johnson begins testing COVID-19 vaccine on teens

Brunilde Fioravanti
Aprile 5, 2021

The vaccine doses originated from a factory operated by Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore, Md., which does manufacturing operations for both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

By moving the AstraZeneca vaccine out, two senior federal health officials said, the plant can be exclusively devoted to the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine and avoid future mishaps. The company said it was "assuming full responsibility", according to The New York Times.

Johnson & Johnson is expanding a clinical trial for its COVID-19 vaccine to include minors.

Regarding the J&J mix-up, "it wasn't the case where an ingredient from one vaccine contaminated or impacted the other", Emergent CEO Robert Kramer said in an interview with CNBC's Meg Tirrell.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on adolescents, not just with the complications of the disease, but with their education, mental health, and wellbeing", said Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, in a statement Friday.

Emergent was also producing a substance for AstraZeneca's vaccine - a vaccine that so far has not been authorized for use in the U.S. But following the incident, it will no longer use the facility to produce ingredients for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

However, one of the federal officials said the Department of Health and Human Services was discussing working with AstraZeneca to adapt its vaccine to combat new coronavirus variants. The mistake happened weeks ago, and none of the doses were distributed. The company confirmed it was taking tighter control of the production process. "Importantly, the quality control systems worked as created to detect and isolate this single batch".

In another arrangement brokered by the Biden administration last month, Johnson & Johnson is now working with Merck, one of the world's biggest vaccine manufacturers. But the Emergent BioSolutions plant at the heart of the issue has faced scrutiny for its shortcomings from federal regulators before.

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