Japan halts use of 1.6 million made-in-Spain Moderna vaccines over contamination fears

Japan halts use of 1.6 million made-in-Spain Moderna vaccines over contamination fears
A Tokyo fire brigade staff member (R) administers a dose of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at Aoyama University in Tokyo on August 2, 2021. Stanislav Kogiku / POOL / AFP
Japan on Thursday suspended the use of 1.63 million Moderna Covid-19 vaccine doses that were manufactured in Spain after finding “abnormal substances” in one of the batches received.

Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on Thursday August 26th that it had withdrawn three batches of Moderna vaccines which were produced at a pharmaceutical plant in Spain. 

As reported in a statement by the Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda, in charge of the distribution and sale of Moderna vaccine in Japan, since August 16th “abnormal substances” have been found in a batch of vials used at several vaccination points in Japan.

As a result, Japanese health authorities have decided to suspend the use of the three batches produced at the Spanish manufacturing plant in question as “it cannot be ruled out that there is a risk” related to the contamination.

Takeda has requested that vaccine patent-holder Moderna urgently conduct an investigation on the matter to ascertain if it’s just batches 3004667, 3004734 and 3004956 – accounting for 1.63 million vaccines – that are affected.

A spokesman for Moderna has since reported that the vaccine batches are being held while the manufacturing problem is investigated, the first hypotheses of which suggests that it was produced at its plant located in Spain.

Although the vaccine manufacturing plant has not been named, Moderna vaccines are produced by Spanish pharmaceutical company Rovi at a factory in Madrid. 

The Madrid laboratory partnered in July 2020 with the American biotechnology company to formulate, bottle and package for the whole world except for the US market.

Formulation consists of combining all components that make up the final vaccine and uniformly mixing them in a single vial.

Spain’s Health Ministry has not yet confirmed if Moderna vaccines used in Spain could be affected by the contamination reported in Japan.


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