Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Repeated Issues

Some 15 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses manufactured by Emergent BioSolutions have had to be destroyed recently because of contamination, and the New York Times reports that this appears to reflect a corporate culture where errors are dismissed.

It reports that the US government contracted with the biotech firm eight years ago to be primed to produce vaccines should a pandemic arise. But, according to the Times, Emergent struggled to show that it was at the ready even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, the Times writes that the US had little choice but to turn to Emergent to manufacture SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, as it was one of the few US companies that could make the vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

Now, audits by regulators, J&J, and AstraZeneca, as well as internally, have uncovered a number of lapses at the manufacturing facility in Baltimore, including deviations from manufacturing standards, errors that killed cells growing the vaccine, and persistent mold concerns, and inadequate employee training, the Times says.

The Times adds that the 15 million J&J vaccine doses that had to be destroyed were contaminated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and that another 62 million J&J vaccine doses and possibly about 70 million AstraZeneca doses need to be tested to ensure they weren't also contaminated. It further reports that previous lots of AstraZeneca's vaccine had to be discarded due to contamination.

The Biden Administration last weekend instructed J&J to take over manufacturing at the plant, which is to be restricted to that vaccine, the Times notes. 

The Scan

Harvard Team Report One-Time Base Editing Treatment for Motor Neuron Disease in Mice

A base-editing approach restored SMN levels and improved motor function in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy, a new Science paper reports.

International Team Examines History of North American Horses

Genetic and other analyses presented in Science find that horses spread to the northern Rockies and Great Plains by the first half of the 17th century.

New Study Examines Genetic Dominance Within UK Biobank

Researchers analyze instances of genetic dominance within UK Biobank data, as they report in Science.

Cell Signaling Pathway Identified as Metastasis Suppressor

A new study in Nature homes in on the STING pathway as a suppressor of metastasis in a mouse model of lung cancer.