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Fourth contaminated Moderna vial found in Japan

Published on 01/09/21 at 09:50am

A fourth contamination case in less than a week in Japan has been reported involving Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which threatens to hinder the country’s already slow inoculation campaign.

Several black particles were found in one Moderna vial during a check for foreign substances before its use, which led to Kanagawa prefecture putting the rest on hold.

Japan has since suspended the use of 1.63 million Moderna jabs.

Moderna and Spanish pharma company Rovi, which bottles Moderna vaccines, have said the cause of the contamination could be a manufacturing issue, and European safety regulators have launched an investigation.

Moderna has said no safety or efficacy issues had been identified from the issue.

The vial suspected of contamination has been collected by the vaccine's domestic distributor, Takeda Pharmaceutical, and Kanagawa prefecture said about 3,790 people had already received shots from the same lot.

Moderna shots were also temporarily halted in two other regions in Japan this week. In some cases, foreign substances have been found in unused vials, whereas others appear to be caused when bits of the vials' rubber stopper break off when needles are incorrectly inserted.

The contamination incidents come as Japan is battling its worst wave of infections, driven by the Delta variant, with daily infections exceeding 25,000 in August for the first time.

COVID-19 cases are at record levels in Japan, leaving many people to recuperate at home amid a shortage of critical care beds. Only 45.4% of its population has been fully vaccinated, lagging behind vaccination rates of many other developed countries.

Kat Jenkins

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