Japan suspends 1.63M doses of Moderna over contamination

Japan is suspending use of about 1.63 million doses of Moderna vaccine after contamination was found in some unused vials

TOKYO -- Japan suspended use of about 1.63 million doses of Moderna vaccine 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.

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.

The Spanish manufacturer, Rovi, said it is conducting an investigation into the matter and is also cooperating with authorities.

“The detection of this particulate matter refers to certain vials of one product lot distributed exclusively in Japan,” the company said in a statement from Madrid.

“The origin of this manufacturing incident may be in one of ROVI’s manufacturing lines,” the statement noted.

It said that as a precaution, the batch in question and two adjacent lots have been put on hold.

Neither the companies nor authorities gave details on the possible type of contamination.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters the government and Takeda are discussing ways to minimize the impact on Japan’s vaccination progress.

“We will do utmost in order to avoid any impact on vaccination progress, especially at worksites and large-scale centers,” Kato said.

About 43% of the Japanese population have been fully vaccinated, with daily doses of about 1 million.

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Barry Hatton contributed to this report from Lisbon, Portugal.