Production at a Baltimore factory came to a halt after Emergent BioSolutions workers mistakenly mixed the wrong ingredients into the mix for 15 million doses. The manufacturing process is now set to be moved to a different plant with the producer’s quality control facing scrutiny.
On Sunday, Emergent BioSolutions issued a statement announcing it was reducing its work with AstraZeneca.
“Emergent expects to align with the US government and AstraZeneca on a mutually agreed ramp down of manufacturing for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine bulk drug substance.”
AstraZeneca released a separate statement explaining its state of affairs in the production of the vaccine.
It added that is was working with the US Government “to support agreed-upon plans for the development, production and full delivery of the vaccine.”
The news comes after research concluded the new, Brazilian coronavirus variant is able to alter itself and survive the vaccine.
The P1 strain previously identified is estimated to be between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible than the original strain.
A P2 variant was also registered, and preliminary studies authored by scientists including those at Brazil’s Department of Virology show the virus is continuing to alter itself in Brazil.
It can delete sites on the spike protein which antibodies bind to, something that would undermine the jab’s effectiveness.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, stressed that there was uncertainty surrounding the situation.
William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Heath, told Scientific American: “It’s quite hard to come up with any scenario that can be made to fit Manaus which is not hugely concerning.
“Following the tragedy of Manaus, I would hope we can put an end to discussion of controlling the pandemic through herd immunity acquired from natural infection.”
Dan Barouch, an immunologist at Harvard University, said: “These viral variants provide a very strong argument for accelerating the vaccine campaign throughout the world because only with vaccination will we be able to control the pandemic and stop the emergence of new viral variants.
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“And viral variants in the future, potentially, will be even more problematic than the ones we have today.”
WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove highlighted the severity of Brazil’s coronavirus figures.
She told a briefing: “Indeed there is a very serious situation going on in Brazil right now, where we have a number of states in critical condition.”