A batch of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine has been put on hold in Japan after some black particles were seen in one vial of the vaccine. The particles were noticed by a pharmacist in one vial of the vaccine in Kanagawa Prefecture. Authorities said the pharmacist was checking the vaccine before use. Media reports have said the rest of the batch has now been put on hold, however, some 3,790 people had already received shots from the batch.
Last month, Japan had suspended the use of about 1.63 million doses of Moderna vaccine 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.
The health ministry said the contamination was reported from multiple vaccination sites. Some doses might have been administered, but no adverse health effects have been reported so far, officials said.
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., a Japanese drugmaker in charge of sales and distribution of the vaccine in Japan, said it decided to suspend the use of doses manufactured in the same production line as a safety precaution.
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.
Japan relies entirely on foreign-developed vaccines by Moderna, as well as Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca. Moderna has been since mid-June at large-scale centers and workplace inoculations and has helped speed up Japan’s rollout.
About 43 per cent of the Japanese population have been fully vaccinated, with daily doses of about 1 million.