Japan suspends use of 1.6M Moderna doses over contamination concerns
Japan on Thursday suspended the use of about 1.63 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine due to reports of contaminants in the vials, Reuters reported.
Both Moderna and Japan have stated that no issues have been identified so far and that the decision was precautionary.
“Moderna confirms having been notified of cases of particulate matter being seen in drug product vials of its COVID-19 vaccine,” the pharmaceutical company said.
“The company is investigating the reports and remains committed to working expeditiously with its partner, Takeda, and regulators to address this,” Moderna added, referring to Takeda Pharmaceutical, which distributes its vaccine in Japan.
Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said that unknown foreign substances had been found in vaccine vials.
As the doses have already been sent to more than 800 vaccination sites around the country, the health ministry is asking that facilities refrain from using them, The Japan Times reported.
Japan is currently struggling with a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Times noted, with the country’s government announcing on Wednesday that it plans on placing eight more prefectures under a state of emergency.
According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker, Japan has administered more than 122 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. Around 43 percent of its total population is fully vaccinated.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games started this week, not long after the Olympic Games, which many Japanese residents and international observers had spoken out against holding due to the worsening pandemic. However, the Japanese government refused to put off the games, which had already been delayed by one year.
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