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Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) speaks Wednesday during a hearing the Emergent BioSolutions CEO and executive chair of the board was questioned. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Emergent BioSolutions paid its executives hundreds of thousands of dollars each in bonuses in February just months before the manufacturer ruined 15 million of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Driving the news: Emergent BioSolutions’ executives faced questions from lawmakers during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on Wednesday as part of an investigation into the plant's failures.

  • The federal government paid the company $271 million as a reservation for its manufacturing capacity, documents posted Wednesday by two House committees show. Yet, to date, U.S. regulators have not cleared any doses for use from its manufacturing plant in Baltimore.

Background: Workers at the plant, which had been producing vaccine materials for J&J and AstraZeneca, conflated ingredients between the two different types of vaccines this spring.

  • The FDA cited 'discrepancies' at the plant dating back to January.
  • Production at the plant stopped last month after the FDA faulted Emergent for failing to thoroughly review the incident and said the plant suffered from multiple unsanitary conditions, including peeling paint in sensitive manufacturing areas and improper waste disposal.

The findings: Despite the company's knowledge of these serious quality problems as it was paid $27 million a month to make COVID-19 vaccines, the company failed to fix the ongoing issues identified in audits.

CEO of Emergent Robert Kramer said more than 100 million doses of J&J vaccine are stalled for distribution as regulators check for potential contamination.

The subcommittee's memo said the company's board praised the CEO and chairman for leveraging "critical relationships with key customers, Congress, and other stakeholders."

  • Kramer was awarded a cash bonus of $1.2 million in recognition of his performance in 2020, on top of a base salary of $875,014 and $4.1 million in stock awards and options issued earlier in the year.
  • Emergent's chairman Fuad El-Hibri was found by the company's board to have “exceed[ed]” expectations and was granted a 2021 compensation package worth more than $3.7 million, including a salary of $1.13 million and stock awards and options totaling $2.6 million

The committee memo also mentions Robert Kadlec, a former senior adviser to President Trump, who awarded Emergent the vaccine contract and "requested in August 2020 that Emergent's contract receive a 'priority rating.'"

  • Kadlec received more than $360,000 in consulting fees from Emergent before working under the Trump administration.

What they're saying: “Emergent’s failures are disappointing precisely because these vaccines are so effective. Because the company was unable to deliver, the vaccinations of millions of people around the world have been delayed, putting their lives at needless risk,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), chair of the subcommittee, said at the hearing.

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns — New cases down
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Aug 27, 2021 - Health

White House clarifies Biden boosters statement

President Biden, right, and Naftali Bennett, Israel's prime minister, meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney0The New York Times-Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration plans to issue a statement clarifying there is no change to their planned timeline for recommending boosters after people finish their primary immunization, despite comments from the president this afternoon.

What they're saying: "We are going to start the booster program in mid-September. There's no change in our timeline," a press release says, according to a senior Biden administration official. The move is also pending authorization by the FDA and the CDC's advisory panel known as ACIP, a senior Biden administration official told Axios.

Aug 27, 2021 - Health

NBA staff must be vaccinated if around players, referees

Fully vaccinated fans are seen in the vaccinated section of the stadium during the NBA Play-In Tournament game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on May 19. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The NBA said Friday that all personnel who will be in close proximity to players and referees must be fully vaccinated, according to a company memo shared with Axios.

State of play: This includes anyone who travels with teams, those who are around the bench areas and those who have access to the locker rooms. Team staff must be vaccinated by Oct. 1.