Emergent is a biopharmaceutical company that develops vaccines and antibody therapies for infections diseases. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Emergent signed deals with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca worth a combined $875 million to provide services to produce those companies’ COVID-19 vaccine candidates, as well as another $628 million from the U.S. government as part of Operation Warp Speed. Emergent’s executives stated that it had “proven manufacturing capabilities in place,” rendering the Company “uniquely prepared to answer the call for [the] COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, on March 31, 2021, news reports revealed that employees at Emergent’s Baltimore manufacturing facility “mixed up” ingredients for the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines, contaminating up to 15 million doses of the J&J vaccine. It was further revealed that this was not an isolated incident, but part of a history of manufacturing issues at the plant. News later broke that by December 2020, Emergent had to discard the equivalent of millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses after they were spoiled by bacterial contamination at the same Baltimore plant. Shares plummeted over 15% in the next two trading days, down from the March 31, 2021 close of $92.91 per share to an April 5, 2021 close of $78.62 per share.