Japan on Thursday withheld 16.3 lakh doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine after foreign materials were found in 5.6 lakh vials, Reuters reported.
Takeda – Moderna’s distributor in Japan – said that it had found particulate matter in the vials last week. There was a delay in approaching the government with the findings as the company was identifying the tainted vials.
“Upon consultation with the health ministry, we have decided to suspend the use of the vaccine from the lot from August 26,” Takeda said, according to AFP.
The doses from the three suspended batches were distributed across 863 vaccination centres, The Japan Times reported. Of these, one batch of 5.65 lakh vaccine doses were used at a defence ministry-run centre in Osaka, according to Reuters. The ministry did not reveal how many beneficiaries were hurt.
“We have not received reports of health problems stemming from the foreign object,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kaso said, according to The Japan Times. “But we are asking people to consult their physicians if they experience any abnormality.”
Moderna is looking into reports of contaminants in some vials, Reuters reported. The company believes that a manufacturing problem at their contractual site in Spain could have caused the contamination.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday said that the country’s vaccination pace will be slightly hit due to contamination risk. Japan had aimed to fully vaccinate 60% of its population by end of September. Currently, around 43% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated amid a surge in Covid-19 infections.
Japan’s health ministry said that it will procure alternative doses to avoid disruption in its vaccination programme, Al Jazeera reported.
Globally, Covid-19 has infected more than 21.38 crore people and led to over 44.6 lakh deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.