Japan Health Ministry suspended the use and distribution of 1.63 million doses of Moderna vaccine after receiving news of vaccine contamination from domestic distributors. As a precaution, the vaccines from the same production line have been withdrawn from use.  

On August 26, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, a Japanese drug dealer responsible for sales and distribution of vaccines, reported that it has yet to examine any reports of safety concerns. Around 863 doses have been distributed and used in the vaccination centers already. 

According to the health ministry of Japan, the reports received from the vaccination centers show some contaminated doses have been used, but no adverse effects have been encountered so far.

Takeda pharmaceutical requested Moderna to conduct an emergency inspection of the vaccine. Also, asked them to inform the organizers and health institutes to withdraw the vaccine batches manufactured in Spain. 3004667, 3004734, and 3004956 These are the number of batches that could be contaminated. 

To date, no safety or efficacy issues have been identified,” Moderna said to Kyodo News, and added that they are “carefully assessing this matter and at this point does not have further comments on root causes.”

The Takeda pharmaceutical and Japan Health Ministry did not disclose any further details about the type of contamination or if the contaminated batches have been distributed outside the country or not. 

The Health Ministry has shared the number of batches so that candidates can check for themselves if they got a contaminated shot or not. 

They further said that a few millimeters of an unknown substance are found in 39 vials of the vaccine, and Moderna examines the materials.

On August 16, reports of encountering unknown substances in the vaccine came from the eight vaccination centers, including Saitama, Gifu, Ibaraki, Aichi, and Tokyo. On Wednesday, Takeda took the Health Ministry in the loop – the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare confirmed. 

Takeda requested the US biotechnology firms for immediate investigation while pleading with medical facilities to suspend the doses showing abnormality and check for batches that could be contaminated before use.

On the current issues, Moderna said, “On an ongoing basis, Moderna monitors and expeditiously assesses questions we receive about our products from global markets.” They further added, “Local authorities will make their own decisions about disclosure of information following these assessments,”

The problem emerged at a time when Japan is facing a spike in Covid-19 cases, with the government planning to place 8 more prefectures under coronavirus state of emergency on Wednesday.