Johnson & Johnson's single-shot coronavirus vaccine was approved for emergency use in the USA at the end of February, becoming the third vaccine to be authorised by the FDA (in addition to the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines).
The facility had been working to produce ingredients for both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines and had mixed up ingredients from the two vaccines, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
The federal government has moved to stop any further risk of contamination at a Baltimore contract vaccine manufacturer where 15 million potential doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine were spoiled last month, telling rival drugmaker AstraZeneca it must move its production from the plant and find somewhere else to make its vaccine.
The episode shows that Emergent's quality control systems are working, he said.
The Department of Health & Human Services facilitated the move, the health official said in an email, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. No vaccine it has produced has been used in USA vaccination efforts so far.
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. "We isolated this batch and it will be disposed of properly".
"J&J continues to work through manufacturing issues with the FDA, and no product will come out of the Baltimore facility without authorization by FDA", a senior health official told NPR. The company confirmed it was taking tighter control of the production process.
Earlier this week, Emergent BioSolutions said in a statement that it was acknowledging that it botched a batch of vaccines but it remained confident in its ability to meet the USA government safety requirements and standards. "Importantly, the quality control systems worked as created to detect and isolate this single batch". "Discarding a batch of bulk drug substance, while disappointing, does occasionally happen during vaccine manufacturing, which is a complex and multi-step biological process".