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Japan's Moderna vaccine contamination woes widen as regions put holds on more shots

Stock MarketsAug 30, 2021 09:46PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Medical staff prepares Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to be administered at the newly-opened mass vaccination centre in Tokyo, Japan, May 24, 2021. Carl Court/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo/File Photo

By Rocky Swift

TOKYO (Reuters) -Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine contamination woes in Japan widened after two regions put temporary holds on shots following the discovery of foreign substances in more batches.

The disruption to Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) supplies comes as Japan battles its worst wave of COVID-19 yet https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-eyes-mixed-use-covid-19-shots-speed-vaccine-rollout-2021-08-29, driven by the contagious Delta variant, with new daily infections exceeding 25,000 this month for the first time amid a slow vaccine rollout.

The latest reports of vaccine contamination came from Gunma prefecture near Tokyo and the southern prefecture of Okinawa, prompting temporary holds on Sunday on shots from two new Moderna lots. That followed the nationwide suspension of 1.63 million doses https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-withdraws-16-mln-moderna-covid-19-vaccine-doses-over-contamination-nikkei-2021-08-25 last week.

A tiny black substance was found https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japans-gunma-prefecture-reports-contaminant-moderna-covid-19-vaccine-2021-08-30 in a Moderna vaccine vial in Gunma, an official from the prefecture said, while in Okinawa, black substances were spotted in syringes and a vial, and pink material was found https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/okinawa-finds-contaminants-moderna-covid-19-vaccines-nhk-2021-08-29 in a different syringe.

Japan's health ministry said some of the incidents may have been due to needles being incorrectly inserted into vials, breaking off bits of the rubber stopper.

The ministry and Takeda Pharmaceutical, which distributes the Moderna vaccine in Japan, said there were no safety issues from the Okinawa and Gunma incidents and that there was no need for nationwide suspensions.

Gunma and Okinawa can resume using vials from the lots in question as long as they do not contain foreign materials, the ministry told a briefing late on Monday.

The contamination cases come on the heels of a government report on Saturday that two people died https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/two-die-japan-after-shots-suspended-moderna-vaccines-japan-govt-2021-08-28 after receiving Moderna shots that were among lots later suspended.

The government had said that no safety or efficacy issues had been identified and that the suspension was a precaution. The causes of death are being investigated.

"It is unlikely, in my opinion, that contamination of foreign substances led directly to sudden deaths," said Takahiro Kinoshita, a physician and vice chair of Cov-Navi, a vaccine information group.

"If the contaminated substances were dangerous enough to cause death for some people, probably many more people would have suffered from some symptoms after the vaccination.

"However, further investigations are definitely needed to evaluate the harm of the particular doses in question."

'LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE'

Japan earlier halted the use of 1.63 million Moderna doses, shipped to 863 vaccination centres nationwide after Takeda received reports of contaminants in some vials.

Some 500,000 people received shots from those supplies, Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the vaccine push, has said.

Moderna and Spanish pharma company Rovi, which bottles Moderna vaccines for markets other than the United States, said at the time that the contamination could be due to a manufacturing issue in one of Rovi's production lines.

Rovi said, in a statement on Sunday, that an investigation was under way in coordination with Moderna, Takeda and the health authorities. Takeda also said, on Monday, that the investigation was ongoing.

Rovi shares closed down 13.5% on Monday.

Nicholas Rennick, an Australian doctor practicing at the NTT Medical Centre in Tokyo, said the contamination "is a serious problem" and there is need to investigate, but given rising COVID-19 cases, Moderna vaccinations should "continue with appropriate precautions".

Severe COVID-19 cases are at record levels in Japan, leaving many people to recuperate at home amid a shortage of critical care beds. Only 44% of its population has been fully vaccinated, lagging vaccination rates of several developed countries.

"We've got thousands of Delta variant patients around Japan as we speak, spreading the virus, and so many of the population remain unvaccinated and unprotected," Rennick said.

"We have to look at the bigger picture."

Japan's Moderna vaccine contamination woes widen as regions put holds on more shots
 

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Comments (16)
Larry Langley
Larry Langley Aug 30, 2021 9:55PM ET
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All this unusual issues after the bankers attacked the value of the 2 biotechs that make Pfizer and Moderna. Suddenly after millions had them no problem the bankers want price cut on value by 75% then for weeks some lame b.s. and funny because Takeda pharmaceuticals was suppose to reproduce this for Moderna
Ludovic Raymond
Ludovic Raymond Aug 30, 2021 9:26PM ET
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Japan going through its worst covid wave, less than a month after hosting the Olympic games. Nobody finds this interesting?!
Ludovic Raymond
Ludovic Raymond Aug 30, 2021 9:26PM ET
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And now hosting paralympic games
Aaseevakan Thurai
Aaseevakan Aug 30, 2021 9:21PM ET
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lol
Kelly Pham
Kelly Pham Aug 30, 2021 9:19PM ET
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It may have been the dirty work of a hostile force which may be trying to do harm to Moderna. Japanese Government must declare publicly which batches are contaminated to the whole world.
Prinvesta Dong
Prinvesta Aug 30, 2021 8:24PM ET
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Any news for the rest contaminated dose user ? Maybe some kind like stroke, blod clotting etc?
Prinvesta Dong
Prinvesta Aug 30, 2021 8:24PM ET
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Any news for the rest contaminated dose user ? Maybe some kind like stroke, blod clotting etc?
Yup Tub
Yup Tub Aug 30, 2021 8:54AM ET
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In UK and Israel hospitalizations are surging among vaccinated and the percentage of hospitalized vaccinated is close or even higher of the percentage vaccinated citizens (1 or 2 doses).
Whaling Trawler
Whaling Trawler Aug 30, 2021 8:41AM ET
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💉 + you = 💀lol
Alejandro Ca
Alejandro Ca Aug 30, 2021 8:41AM ET
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COVID🦠 + you = 💀lol
Josh Davis
Josh Davis Aug 30, 2021 8:41AM ET
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Alejandro Ca wrong. If this was true why am i not dead and how am i typing this message?
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Aug 30, 2021 8:41AM ET
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Josh Davis wRoNggggg
Necleus Electron
Necleus Electron Aug 30, 2021 3:38AM ET
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Sinovac has higher standard than moderna and pfizer!
Necleus Electron
Necleus Electron Aug 30, 2021 3:37AM ET
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These companies like to call their products high quality high standards compare to others. Yup this is call STANDARD!
Necleus Electron
Necleus Electron Aug 30, 2021 3:18AM ET
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That black substance is graphene.
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Aug 29, 2021 10:33PM ET
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What if used Moderna vaccine all have this issue and government will not admit?
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Aug 29, 2021 10:11PM ET
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the official start of the "fall of the vaccines". let winter lockdowns and afghanistan 2.0 begin. oh and the fake food shortage aswell, coming from "climate change", and not gov funding for crop destruction en masse. Must put that colossal investment in farm lands to profit, Mr. Gates, since you have milked vaccines to it's max now.
Luis Quezada
Luis Quezada Aug 29, 2021 10:09PM ET
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Sound like a rich bear trying to drive the price down.
Balaji Telang
Balaji Telang Aug 29, 2021 9:58PM ET
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vaccine are not safe now
James Vandervest
James Vandervest Aug 29, 2021 9:53PM ET
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"safe and effective"- that is what you media people have been SHUTTING US DOWN WITH~!
Matt Brackley
Matt Brackley Aug 29, 2021 9:53PM ET
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flash forward too... OMG how did this slip through!?
 
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