TOKYO — The Japanese capital is undergoing a resurgence. Because contamination was discovered in unused Moderna vaccine vials on Thursday, the country suspended the use of approximately 1.63 million doses of the vaccine, raising concerns about a potential supply shortage as the country attempts to accelerate vaccinations in the face of a COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the health ministry, contamination has been detected at a number of immunization locations. Officials believe that some dosages may have been given, but that no detrimental health consequences have been recorded so far, they added.
Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., a Japanese pharmaceutical company in charge of sales and distribution of the vaccine in the country, said that it has chosen to halt usage of doses produced on the same manufacturing line as a safety precaution.
It requested that Moderna undertake an emergency inquiry, and it advised medical institutions and event organizers to cease using the vaccine manufactured in Spain. It also provided information about the production numbers that may have been impacted by the outbreak.
There were no specifics provided by the health ministry or Takeda on the kind of contamination that occurred or if the contaminated dosages were delivered outside of Japan.
The Moderna vaccination issue occurred at a time when Japan is grappling with an epidemic of illnesses, with daily new cases reaching new highs in many areas of the country and putting a tremendous burden on the healthcare system in general.
The government and Takeda are considering measures to minimize any negative effect on Japan's immunization efforts, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, who spoke to reporters.
According to Kato, "we will do all we can to prevent any negative effect on immunization efforts, particularly at work locations and large-scale facilities."
Japan is completely reliant on vaccinations produced by Moderna, as well as Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca, which are imported from other countries. Moderna has been present in Japan since mid-June, at large-scale facilities and workplace vaccinations, and has contributed to the country's rapid spread.
Approximately 43 percent of the Japanese population has received a complete vaccination, with daily doses of approximately 1 million.
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