Johnson & Johnson confirms vaccine production issues

Company says it should still be on track to deliver 24 million vaccine doses through April.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
2 min read

Production of the single-shot vaccine has hit a delay.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Johnson & Johnson has confirmed reports it identified a batch of COVID-19 vaccines that didn't meet its quality standards and as a result destroyed them. The batch hadn't yet advanced to the filling and finishing stages, but the company said it's evidence of how rigorous its quality control is.

"The start-up for a new process includes test runs and quality checks to ensure manufacturing is validated and the end product meets our high-quality standards," Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday. "The issue was identified and addressed with Emergent and shared with the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA)."

Read more: Pfizer and Moderna vaccines 80% effective at preventing COVID-19 after one shot, CDC says

Johnson & Johnson's comments follow a report earlier Wednesday by The New York Times saying around 15 million doses had been accidentally ruined by human error after workers in the facility mixed ingredients incorrectly, with shipments of the vaccine delayed as a result.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president's chief medical adviser and director of NIAID, said Thursday the good news is the checks and balances on vaccine safety are working.

"Human errors do happen," Fauci told CBS This Morning. "It's really quite unfortunate that about 15 million doses now are not going to be able to be used, but you do have checks and balances, and you see that."

Johnson & Johnson will provide Emergent Biosolutions' Bayview Facility with more experts in manufacturing, technical operations and quality to supervise and direct the manufacturing of the vaccine. The facility hasn't yet produced any of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine currently being distributed in the US.

"In coordination with the US Department of Health & Human Services, these steps will enable us to safely deliver an additional 24 million single-shot vaccine doses through April," Johnson & Johnson said, adding it aims to deliver 100 million single-shot vaccines by the end of May.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced 90% of adults will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19, and that the majority of Americans will have a vaccination site within five miles of their home. Biden had previously said all adults in the US should be eligible for a vaccine by May 1.

Here's where to get a COVID-19 shot and how to track how many vaccines are available in your state.

Read more: 16 important do's and don'ts for getting your COVID-19 vaccine 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.