Japan detects contaminant in Moderna vaccines, suspends dose administrations


Japan suspended the use of 1.63 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as a precaution.

Takeda Pharmaceutical received reports of contaminants in some Moderna COVID-19 vaccine vials in Japan last week. For safety purposes, officials paused the use of the doses from the involved batch on Thursday.

The batch in question accounts for 1.63 million doses, which are from the 3004667, 3004734, and 3004956 lots. Reports said that over 863 vaccination sites across the country received the shipment, “and some were used.”

Following the detection of the foreign substances, the health ministry of Japan reportedly immediately notified the vaccination centers on Thursday morning. This led to the suspension of the administration of the involved doses.

Gunma, Okinawa prefectures halted Moderna usage

Days later, reports of more cases of contamination emerged. This prompted the prefectures of Gunma and Okinawa to suspend their respective Moderna inoculation drives on Sunday.

Reuters released a report on the matter, detailing what the Gunma official had said. As revealed, they found “a tiny, black substance” in a Moderna vaccine vial, according to U.S. News. Nevertheless, the prefecture continues to use the Moderna lots that are not involved in the incident.

Meanwhile, the prefecture of Okinawa suspended altogether the use of the Moderna doses at a major vaccination center. This came after they “spotted” foreign substances in some vials.

Japan, Takeda: No confirmed links between deaths and vaccines

The suspension of the use of the COVID-19 vaccines also came after the deaths of two people in Japan. On Saturday, reports surfaced, noting that both individuals received their second doses of the Moderna vaccine days prior.

Takeda Pharmaceutical, which distributes the vaccine in question across the country, released an official statement on the same day. As explained, officials have yet to confirm a link between the deaths and the Moderna vaccine.

The health ministry shared a similar statement, adding that they have yet to establish a “causal link” between the two variables. Despite this, though, the company believes that “it is important to carry out a formal probe to investigate” the concerns further.

CNN consequently reported that the two individuals had received their doses from the 3004734 lot. But, officials stated that “no foreign contaminants had been reported from this lot yet.”

Investigations over the matter continue

Investigations over the matter are ongoing on the health ministry’s and Takeda Pharmaceutical’s parts. Moderna has its own, as well, alongside Rovi, which bottles the vaccines for markets outside the United States.

Following the reports of contamination in Japan on Thursday, Rovi said that it could be “due to a manufacturing issue” in one of its production lines. The Spanish company also described the contaminant as “particulate matter.”

Images courtesy of Reuters/YouTube

Mike Pantoja-Contreras

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Mike Pantoja-Contreras

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