Canada could get J&J vaccine shipment in June as quality concerns linger

Canada could get a shipment of 300,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this month.

During a COVID-19 press conference on Friday, Joelle Paquette, director-general responsible for vaccine procurement at Public Services and Procurement, Canada, said that the country will receive a shipment from the United States by the end of June but “further detail will be provided once we solidify that.”

It is unclear at this point if the shipment will come from the same U.S. plant that delivered the first batch of 310,000 Johnson & Johnson shots to Canada and were held back due to quality control issues.

“We have the 310,000 [doses] that came earlier, that are still on hold pending health Canada approval. They [U.S.] have advised that they will have a shipment at the end of this month but further detail will be provided once we solidify that,” Paquette said.

The announcement comes as the EU and US FDA decide to discard batches of the vaccine over contamination concerns.

Europe’s drug regulator said on Friday batches of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine made for the region around the time when contamination issues were revealed at a U.S. manufacturing site would, as a precaution, not be used.

The announcement came in the wake of a New York Times report, which said the U.S. Food & Drug Administration had asked Johnson & Johnson to discard 60 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine that were manufactured at the troubled Baltimore factory.

Read more: U.S. states urged to seek longer shelf life for J&J vaccines as millions near expiration

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) did not say how many shots were affected, but Reuters has reported it involves millions of doses, making it harder for J&J to meet a target of delivering 55 million to Europe by end of June.

Johnson & Johnson did not immediately respond to Reuters queries.

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The EMA said it was aware a batch of the active substance for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine had been contaminated in April with materials for another vaccine made at the site in Maryland owned by Emergent Biosolutions.

The production of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine at the site was halted by U.S. authorities and Johnson & Johnson was put in charge of manufacturing at the plant.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is close to approving about 10 million doses of the vaccine made at the plant, CNN reported on Friday.

Read more: U.S. to resume using J&J COVID-19 vaccine after CDC recommends ending pause

The April error involved ingredients from AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, also being produced at the plant, contaminating a batch of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, developed by its Janssen unit.

The EMA said that batch was not intended for the European Union and that batches of the vaccine released in the region had not been affected by the cross contamination, based on the information it has.

— With files from Reuters

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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