Keeping tabs on Covid-19: Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 supply delay, Germany pauses its use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and portable cold carrier launched to help with vaccine roll-out

Uncover updates on Covid-19 vaccine delivery and distribution following news of Johnson & Johnson’s manufacturing error, and doubts and disputes around AstraZeneca’s vaccine safety

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Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine delayed due to human error

US regulators have been forced to delay the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine production following a manufacturing error in its Baltimore plant.

Workers in the manufacturing plant accidentally blended the wrong ingredients together, contaminating up to 15 million doses of J&J’s vaccine, reported the New York Times. The mix up has delayed the delivery of future shipments of the single-shot vaccine to the US and the Food and Drug Administration is currently investigating the incident.

J&J released a statement saying: “We continue to expect to deliver our Covid-19 vaccine at a rate of more than one billion doses by the end of 2021.

“We are pleased we have met our commitment to deliver enough single-shot vaccines by the end of March to enable the full vaccination of more than 20 million people in the US. We continue to plan the delivery of another 100 million single-shot vaccines to the US during the first half of 2021, aiming to deliver those doses by the end of May.”

J&J has verified that the contaminated batch never advanced to the filling and finishing stages of their manufacturing process and ensures quality and safety of their products remains a top priority.

Germany suspends its use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine even after the European Medicines Agency's backing

Following the concerns that patients with low blood platelets could develop blood clots after receiving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, German health authorities have decided to limit their use of the vaccine in under-60 populations.

The decision was finalized after the country’s medicines regulator discovered 31 new cases of a rare type of blood clot in the brain, with nine cases resulting in death after they had received AstraZeneca’s vaccine, Reuters reported.  

Germany follows in the footsteps of Canada who also suspended the AstraZeneca jab in under-50 populations.

The suspension of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in Germany is likely to deal yet another blow to the vaccine’s reputation, despite the European Medicines Agency (EMA) backing the vaccine’s safety.

The EMA and the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency stressed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine continued to outweigh the risk of side effects.

In the UK, a government spokesperson said: "The Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives in this country. As the UK's independent regulator has said, when people are called forward, they should get the jab.

"Over 30 million people have already received their first dose of a vaccine, and we are on track to offer jabs to all over-50s by April 15 and all adults by the end of July."

Jens Spahn, Germany’s Federal Minister of Health commented: “The decision [to pause the distribution of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in Germany] is purely precautionary. It is a technical decision and not a political one. I am following the recommendation of the Paul Ehrlich Institute following the rare cases of blood clots.”

CoolMed launches portable vaccine carrier to help with the Covid-19 vaccination rollout

Medical equipment supplier CoolMed has launched a portable vaccine carrier designed to aid healthcare professionals in the transportation of vaccines when they are moving between Covid-19 vaccine sites. Vaccines that are not kept between two and eight degrees Celsius have to be discarded, leading to delays in vaccine administration.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, CoolMed has supplied the UK National Health Service with over 500 medical refrigerators in order to safeguard their Covid-19 vaccine stocks. The portable vaccine carrier aims to solve logistical problems in cold chain compliance and help with the vaccine rollout by providing a last-mile solution for vaccine distribution.

CoolMed’s portable vaccine carrier has an inside temperature range of two and eight degrees Celsius and can be set at any required temperature within this range. The digital temperature display allows medical practitioners to easily record and monitor the temperature within the carrier, ensuring vaccines are maintained within the cold chain temperature range during transit.

Stephen Johnson, Managing Director of CoolMed, said: “We have been inundated with orders for medical-grade refrigerators since the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. We were being asked about smaller refrigeration units that one person could use to transport vaccines, so we developed and manufactured the CoolMed portable vaccine carrier to provide pharma companies with an easy logistical solution. We are thrilled to launch this product at such an important time and further help with the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccinations.”

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