Japan’s Health Ministry announced on August 26 that it was suspending the use of some 1.63 million doses of Moderna against covid-19 due to contamination reports. The Ministry stated that all vaccines currently being introduced in Japan are manufactured by a company based in Spain. It is currently unclear whether the problem also affects the supply of vaccines to other countries.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s Health Ministry said “foreign materials” were found in at least 390 doses – or 39 ampouls – of Moderna vaccines from eight vaccination sites. Contamination reports concern a batch with a total of 565 400 doses. Officials said an unknown number of doses from the affected batch have been administered, but no adverse reactions have been reported so far.
“It’s a substance that reacts to magnets… it could be metal,” said one ministry official, according to Nikkei Asia.
Moderna confirms that it has been informed of cases of solid particles in vials of its covid-19 vaccine medicinal product. “The company is investigating these reports and remains committed to working swiftly with its partner, Takeda, and regulators to address this situation,” Moderna said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the Japanese government is in talks with Takeda about ways to minimize the impact on vaccinations in the country.
The ministry said it decided to suspend the batch as a precautionary measure after consulting Takeda, a Japanese drug manufacturer that distributes Moderna vaccines, which has received reports of vaccine contamination from several vaccine sites. The Ministry of Health subsequently learned of this on August 25, The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. The Ministry has also suspended two other batches. In total, the three batches contain 1.63 million doses of the vaccine, which have been distributed to 863 vaccination centers across the country.