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the coronavirus crisis

Japan suspends 1.6 million vaccine doses due to 'tainted vials'

Japan is suspending the use of more than one-and-a-half million COVID-19 vaccine doses due to contamination concerns. 

Japanese authorities said Thursday they're halting the use of more than 1.6 million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine "after some vaccination sites reported finding tainted vials," The New York Times writes. According to the Times, contaminants were found in almost 40 doses at eight locations in Japan. 

"Moderna confirms having been notified of cases of particulate matter being seen in drug product vials of its COVID-19 vaccine," Moderna said. "...Moderna believes the manufacturing issue was generated in one of the lines used at its contract manufacturing site in Spain. Out of an abundance of caution, Moderna has put this lot and two adjacent lots on hold."

This comes as Japan, which had a slow start to its vaccine rollout, has been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the Delta variant. According to The Association Press, about 43 percent of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated. Despite this vaccine setback, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that officials will "do utmost in order to avoid any impact on vaccination progress." Kato also said that "we have not received reports of health problems" due to the reported contamination but that "we are asking people to consult their physicians if they experience any abnormality."