The coronavirus vaccination drive at more than 800 sites across Japan may be disrupted after foreign substances were found in some vials of the Moderna vaccine.
Japan's health ministry on Thursday decided to halt the use of about 1.63 million doses of the Moderna vaccine that were manufactured in the same factory in Spain at around the same time as the contaminated vials.
Over the past 10 days, foreign substances were discovered in 39 unused vials at eight vaccination sites in Japan. All the tainted vials were made in Spain and were shipped to Japan from late July.
The ministry says it has not received any reports of health damage from the vaccines.
The 1.63 million doses of the vaccine had been distributed to 863 vaccination sites across the country. The ministry began notifying these sites on Thursday morning.
The ministry has not disclosed the names of the affected sites. But officials say large-scale vaccination sites operated by municipalities and sites set up by companies and universities are included.
The Agency for Cultural Affairs abruptly canceled a vaccination program for people engaged in cultural and artistic activities that had been scheduled for Thursday at the National Art Center, Tokyo. The unused vaccines at the site included doses from the same production lot as the contaminated vials.
The ministry says it will work to minimize the impact on the vaccination schedule by sending replacement vaccines to the sites.
Takeda Pharmaceutical, which handles the distribution of Moderna vaccines in Japan, says it has asked the US company to identify the foreign substances and to explain how the vials were contaminated.