The Latest: Canada puts J&J vaccine rollout plans on hold

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A man walks on a virtually empty Istiklal Street, the main shopping street of Istanbul, with shops closed, Friday, April 30, 2021, on the first day of a tight lockdown to help protect from the spread of the coronavirus. Turkish security forces are patrolling main streets and have set up checkpoints at entry and exits points of cities, to enforce Turkeys strictest COVID-19 lockdown to date. Still, many people were on the move on Friday as the government, desperate not to shut down the economy completely, spared some sectors from the restrictions. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

OTTAWA, Ontario — 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 U.S. market.

The Emergent Biosolutions facility in Baltimore was recently cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for violations including cleaning and sterilization 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.