Japan suspends 1.63mn Moderna vaccine doses after contamination found
(Sourced from PTI)
Japan suspended use of about 1.63 million Moderna vaccine doses on Thursday after contamination was found in unused vials, raising concern of a supply shortage as the country tries to accelerate vaccinations amid a COVID-19 surge. The health ministry said, "The contamination was reported from multiple vaccination sites. Some doses might have been administered, but no adverse health effects have been reported so far."
Takeda Pharmaceutical, a Japanese drugmaker in charge of sales and distribution of the vaccine, said it decided to suspend the use of doses manufactured in the same production line as a safety precaution. It asked Moderna to conduct an emergency investigation and told medical institutions and organizers to stop using the vaccine produced in Spain and shared the production numbers that may be affected.
Meanwhile, according to Reuters, confirming the issue, Moderna Inc said that it has withheld supply of about 1.63 million doses of vaccine after a report of contamination of vials with particulate matter which involves a production line in Spain. It said, "The company is investigating the reports and remains committed to working expeditiously with its partners and regulators to address this."
The Moderna vaccine problem came just as Japan struggles with surging infections, with daily new cases hitting new highs in many parts of the country and severely straining the health care system. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters that the government and Takeda are discussing ways to minimize the impact on Japan's vaccination progress.
"We will do our utmost to avoid any impact on vaccination progress, especially at worksites and large-scale centers," Kato said. Japan relies entirely on foreign-developed vaccines by Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca. Since mid-June, Moderna has helped in speeding up Japan's vaccination program. About 43% of the Japanese population have been fully vaccinated, with about one million daily doses.
Meanwhile, according to Reuters, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that he received a report that Japan's inoculation plan would be little affected by recent contamination incident involving Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. He, however, instructed officials to deal with the issue considering safety as a priority.