Japan announced Thursday to suspend the use of 1.63 million doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus, after reports of the presence of impurities in some vials of this product.
The Japanese pharmaceutical group Takeda, which imports and distributes the vaccine of this American group in the Japanese archipelago, said in a statement to have received “reports from several vaccination centers, according to which foreign bodies have been discovered” in vials. vaccine vaccine.
“After consultation with the Ministry of Health, we have decided to suspend the use” of all vaccines from three batches as of Thursday, or 1.63 million doses in total, Takeda added.
For its part, Moderna “is investigating these reports and undertakes to work without delay with its partner Takeda and the regulatory authorities to respond to them”, according to a separate press release.
This American company assumes that the problem stems from a production line of its subcontractor in Spain, Rovi, which produces its Covid-19 vaccines for markets outside the United States.
“To date, no safety or efficacy issue has been identified,” Moderna added, without specifying the nature of the contaminants.
Their presence was found in 39 sealed vials of vaccines at eight different vaccination centers in Japan, including Tokyo, according to the Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
These vials all came from only one of the three lots withdrawn from distribution in Japan. The use of the other two batches was stopped as a precaution, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said on Thursday.
“For the time being, there is no indication that doses containing these contaminants have been administered,” he added during a regular press briefing.
Therefore, “we have not had any feedback” on possible health damage linked to the injection of such suspicious doses, added Mr Kato.
Before preparing and administering doses, medical staff also inspects the vials with the naked eye, for its part said the Japanese Ministry of Defense, which manages mass vaccination centers.
The Ministry of Health will cooperate with Takeda to distribute alternative doses, in order to avoid an interruption of the national immunization program which has been accelerating for several months after a slow start.
About 43% of the population of Japan is fully vaccinated. But that does not prevent this country from currently struggling with record levels of daily infections, due in particular to the Delta variant, which is more resistant and more contagious.
Most of the archipelago is now affected by restrictions against Covid-19, but these remain limited and their effectiveness questionable, the coercive means of the government to impose them being limited.