Last week, around 1.63 million doses of the Moderna vaccine produced in Spain were on hold in Japan after the country’s health ministry detected foreign substances in some of the vials. Two men died after receiving their second injection of Moderna vaccine from the contaminated batch.
Japan’s health ministry said the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine contamination that resulted in the suspension of more than a million doses in Okinawa was likely caused by needles improperly inserted in vials.
The country’s Health Minister Norihisa Tamura told reporters that it was not uncommon for foreign material to enter a vial along with other vaccines, adding that there were no concerns about safety or others regarding the use of vaccines. The ministry also pledged to gather more information and report on the situation.
On August 26, Japan stopped the use of 1.63 million doses of Moderna from three batches produced at the ROVI manufacturing site in Spain. This happened after foreign matter had been discovered in parts of the vaccine doses. The Japanese company Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., in charge of the distribution of the vaccine, and the Spanish pharmaceutical company ROVI, have opened an investigation into the case. The American vaccine maker Moderna has also reportedly launched a parallel investigation.
On the same day, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. published the number of batches of contaminated vaccines: 3004667, 3004734 and 3004956. Vaccines from these batches were reportedly distributed to 863 vaccination centers across the country.
Later in the week, Japanese media reported that two middle-aged men in the country died after receiving their second injection of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine from a tainted batch. The two deceased were reportedly vaccinated before the ministry suspended the defective batch.
On August 29, Okinawa Prefecture in southern Japan also announced the discovery of foreign material in several vials of Moderna’s vaccine from different lots than those previously suspended.