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Leaders of company whose factory ruined millions of vaccine doses to testify before House

Leaders of company whose factory ruined millions of vaccine doses to testify before House
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Leaders at Emergent BioSolutions, the manufacturer whose Baltimore factory ruined millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses, are slated to testify in front of the House next week as part of an inquiry into the company. 

The company’s CEO and President Robert Kramer and Executive Chairman Fuad El-Hibri agreed to appear before the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on May 19 to address questions about the up to 15 million destroyed doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine. 

The subcommittee, chaired by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), said in a release that it intends to also get more information on how Emergent managed the plant, trained its staff and the ways in which the bungling will affect the national and global vaccination endeavor. 

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Kramer and El-Hibri will also be questioned on whether Emergent used its relationship with the Trump administration to get manufacturing contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars “despite warnings that the company could not be relied upon to quickly and safely manufacture vaccines during a pandemic."

The Washington Post first reported last year that Emergent lobbied the Trump administration to have official Robert Kadlec, who previously consulted for the company, control of the national stockpile. 

The company was designated to create the primary U.S. facility for manufacturing the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines. 

"Congress is looking for answers and they are long overdue," Clyburn said in a statement. 

“Emergent’s actions wasted American taxpayer dollars and reduced the number of doses available for global vaccination efforts,” the majority whip added.

“Despite Emergent’s history of failures, the Trump Administration awarded the company a vaccine manufacturing contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars," he said. "We plan to explore the impact of those past failures on our pandemic response and the extent to which political connections influenced the decision to turn to Emergent yet again."

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Emergent released a statement on Wednesday in response saying it has responded to the Food and Drug Administration’s observations with “a comprehensive quality enhancement plan.”

“We have already started making improvements and we are fully committed to making the necessary short- and long-term enhancements to meet or exceed FDA’s standards,” the statement said. 

The subcommittee launched its investigation into the contracted company after news surfaced of the ruined Johnson & Johnson doses.

The doses were considered contaminated after coming in contact with ingredients used for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In response, the Biden administration made Johnson & Johnson the managers of the Baltimore plant, and many doses made in the facility have been put on hold around the world.

-Updated 5:33 p.m.