Japan stops use of 1.63 million Moderna Covid-19 vaccine doses over contamination

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan will halt the use of 1.63 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine after reports of contamination in several lots, drugmaker Takeda and the health ministry said on Thursday (Aug 26).

Takeda, which is in charge of sales and distribution of the Moderna shot in Japan, said it had “received reports from several vaccination centres that foreign substances have been found inside unopened vials from specific lots”.

“Upon consultation with the health ministry, we have decided to suspend the use of the vaccine from the lot from Aug 26,” it added.

The firm said it had informed Moderna and “requested an urgent investigation”.

Moderna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Takeda did not detail the nature of the contamination, but said it had not so far received any reports of health concerns arising from affected doses.

The health ministry said it would work with Takeda to secure alternative doses to avoid disruption to the country’s vaccine programme, which has ramped up after a slow start.

Around 43 per cent of Japan’s population is currently fully vaccinated, but the country is battling a record surge of virus cases driven by the more contagious Delta variant.

Around 15,500 people have died from Covid-19 in the country during the pandemic, and large parts of Japan are under virus restrictions.

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