Plans to distribute the first 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Canada next week are on hold after Health Canada learned part of them were manufactured at a Maryland facility that messed up the ingredients in 15 million doses bound for the US market.
The Emergent Biosolutions facility in Baltimore was recently cited by the US Food and Drug Administration for violations including cleaning and sterilisation failures, the potential for cross-contamination, and failure to follow required protocols.
The FDA ordered the facility to stop making more J&J vaccine until the problems are corrected and the earlier mistake on the doses resulted in all 15 million being destroyed.
Health Canada had already cleared 1.5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made at the facility but did not think the Canadian J&J doses had any connection to that plant.
Now Health Canada says the drug substance that makes up part of the J&J vaccine was actually produced there and then shipped elsewhere for the vaccines to be finished.
Health Canada says it is seeking information from the FDA and J&J’s pharmaceutical arm, Janssen, to determine if the 300,000 doses shipped to Canada meet required safety standards.
The J&J vaccine has not been used in Canada so far.
The doses arrived in Canada on Wednesday.