Emergent CEO Says 100M COVID Vaccine Doses on Hold

'My teenage son's room gives your facility a run for its money'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2021 10:10 AM CDT
CEO: 100M Doses From Troubled Plant Now on Hold
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi speaks during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

"My teenage son's room gives your facility a run for its money," Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi told Emergent BioSolutions CEO Robert Kramer at a House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. Kramer acknowledged that the company's Baltimore plant had problems including mold, leaks, and peeling paint, the New York Times reports, and disclosed for the first time that more than 100 million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are now on hold while they're checked for contamination. The plant, which was awarded a $628 million federal contract under Operation Warp Speed despite a long history of quality control issues, has already had to destroy at least 15 million doses of the J&J vaccine.

Democratic lawmakers also quizzed Kramer and Emergent founder Fuad El-Hibri about the company's ties to Trump administration figures and the large bonuses paid to execs, reports ABC News. Kramer told lawmakers that millions in stock sales he made soon before news of the plant's problem caused the company's share price to plummet were scheduled as part of a company-approved plan. He rejected Krishnamoorthi's suggestion that he return some of his $1.2 million 2020 bonus to taxpayers. Not a single dose produced at the Baltimore plant has been released for use. Production has been halted for a month, but Kramer said Wednesday that he expects it to resume "in a matter of days." He admitted that the spoiled doses were detected not by Emergent but by J&J, which is now overseeing production. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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