What We’re Reading: More J&J Doses Potentially Compromised; Fentanyl as Schedule 1 Drug; COVID-19 in Texas

New reports show additional doses of Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine manufactured in Baltimore may be contaminated; legislation extends fentanyl's regulation as a Schedule 1 drug; COVID-19 cases and deaths increase in Texas.

More J&J Vaccines May Have Been Contaminated

Following reports of 15 million Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine doses spoiled at a Baltimore plant earlier this month, federal regulators have now found more flaws at the facility, The New York Times reports. FDA officials say Emergent BioSolutions, the company manufacturing the vaccine, may have contaminated additional doses because it failed to fully investigate contamination and had faults in its disinfectant practices, handling of raw materials, and training of workers. No doses made at the plant have gone out to the public and all J&J doses distributed in the United States were manufactured overseas.

Fentanyl Regulated as a Schedule 1 Drug

The US House of Representatives passed legislation to extend a provision set to expire that keeps fentanyl listed as a Schedule 1 drug, according to Roll Call. The deadly synthetic opioid has been responsible for a large proportion of drug overdoses in the United States in recent years. Its listing as a Schedule 1 drug, which would have expired May 6, means it has a high potential to be abused and does not have a medical use. In the 12 months preceding September 2020, at least 87,000 individuals died of drug overdoses. Under the revised version of the bill, fentanyl’s status would remain until October 22, 2021, granting lawmakers time to draft more comprehensive legislation.

Texas COVID-19 Deaths, Cases Rise

COVID-19 deaths and cases continue to increase at an above-average pace in Texas, The Associated Press reports. The state recorded 4518 new cases and 82 COVID-19–related deaths compared with a rolling 7-day average of over 3200 cases and 55 deaths, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Over the course of the pandemic, the state has reported just over 3 million cases and nearly 50,000 deaths, while currently, 36% of Texans have received at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 23% of the population is fully vaccinated.