Health Canada pauses distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccines

Some of the doses were manufactured at a U.S. facility that messed up ingredients

Health Canada has put on hold plans to distribute the first 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines next week.

The move comes after officials learned some of the doses were manufactured at a Baltimore facility that messed up the ingredients in 15 million doses bound for the U.S. market. The mistake resulted in all the doses being destroyed.

The J & J vaccine is widely anticipated because only one dose is required.

In a statement, Health Canada says those doses will only be released “once Health Canada is satisfied that they meet the Department’s high standards for quality, safety and efficacy.”

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.

“As with all vaccines imported into Canada, the Janssen vaccines will only be released for distribution once Health Canada is satisfied that they meet the Department’s high standards for quality, safety and efficacy,” Health Canada said Friday evening in a release.

“Health Canada has rigorous processes in place to continually monitor the quality of vaccines that are administered to Canadians.

“We will continue to ensure that products coming from the Emergent facility, or any other facility, will only be imported and distributed in Canada if they are of high quality and safe for use.”

Until Friday, Health Canada had refused to say where Canada’s doses had been made, citing fear of disrupting a confidential supply chain.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu says “the government was made aware of this information today – the same day Health Canada decided to communicate it with Canadians.”