Japanese Health Minister Says Vaccine Contaminants Likely Caused By Incorrect Needle Use, No Safety Issue With Moderna Shot

Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said Tuesday that foreign matter was found in Moderna Covid-19 vials in Okinawa's southern prefecture. This clarification comes after two other prefectures in Japan suspended the rollout for some shots due to contamination.

Norihisa Tamura, Japanese Health Minister, stated that there were no safety concerns with Moderna... [+] vaccinations distributed in Okinawa prefecture. ASSOCIATED PRINT

The Key Facts

The Japanese health ministry stated that foreign substances found in vials in Okinawa prefecture may have been due to incorrectly inserted needles. This could have caused bits of rubber stopper to break off. Tamura stated that the Moderna vaccine was safe and sound, regardless of the cause. Minister Tamura stated that authorities would continue to collect information and report back. Two prefectures. Okinawa, Gunma temporarily stopped the distribution of certain vaccine doses after Japan had stopped the distribution of approximately 1.63 million Moderna vaccine doses due to contamination concerns. Both Takeda Pharmaceutical, which distributes Moderna shot in Japan, and the health ministry said Monday that there was no need to suspend the Moderna jab nationwide due to no safety concerns from the incidents in Okinawa or Gunma. Concerns about some vaccine batches come at a time when Japan faces its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic, which was largely caused by the more dangerous delta variant.

Big Number

45% According to Bloomberg's tracker, this is the proportion of Japan's population that have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Even though Japan's rollout was slow at first, it has picked up significant speed over the past two months, despite a spike in cases of delta variants.

Important Background

After foreign material was found in some of the unused Moderna vaccine doses, the Japanese government stopped distribution. Moderna, a vaccine manufacturer, stated that 565,400 doses of Moderna were not part of the same production lot. However, two other lots were also stopped. Japanese health officials later said they were looking into the deaths of two men who were inoculated using Moderna's suspended vaccine lot. Experts remain skeptical that the deaths could have been caused by the reported contaminants. However, these concerns could encourage vaccine hesitancy in a time of crisis in Japan's healthcare system. A Lancet study last year found that Japan has the lowest level of confidence in vaccine safety or effectiveness.

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Two Japanese Regions Temporarily Stop Rollout of Moderna Shots amid Contamination Concerns (Forbes).

Japan's health minister warns that Okinawa vaccine contaminations could be from needle stick (Reuters).

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