Another atomic bomb hits Japan, this time with a different atom

August 27, 2021 - 20:54

TEHRAN – In a blow to the U.S.-made Covid-19 vaccines, Japan has suspended the use of about 1.63 million doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine over contamination fears, further reinforcing the soundness of arguments that foreign vaccines cannot be fully trusted. 

The suspension came after Japan’s Health Ministry announced “foreign materials” were found in some doses of a batch of roughly 560,000 vials.

Nearly a week ago, some vaccination centers in Japan sent reports of contaminants in some vials. The domestic distributor of Moderna Covind-19 vaccine in Japan, Takeda Pharmaceutical, announced that it received these reports. A week after receiving reports of contamination, the distributor announced the suspension of the use of the American vaccine. 

No details have so far been publicized about the “foreign material,” but Takeda described it as particulate matter.

According to the Japan Times, the Japanese Health Ministry said that the foreign substance had been identified in 39 vials, all of which had the lot number 3004667, at eight workplace and large-scale inoculation sites in five prefectures — Aichi, Ibaraki, Gifu, Saitama and Tokyo — since Aug. 16. The ministry has decided to no longer use the around 570,000 doses with the lot number.

Moderna confirmed that it was aware of the scandal. “Moderna confirms having been notified of cases of particulate matter being seen in drug product vials of its COVID-19 vaccine,” the American firm said in a statement.

“The company is investigating the reports and remains committed to working expeditiously with its partner, Takeda, and regulators to address this,” it added, referring to Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical.

A blame game started soon after the Japan suspension went viral. Moderna said the contamination could be due to a manufacturing issue in one of the production lines at its contract manufacturing site in Spain.

A spokesperson for the company added that the affected production batch, plus two more batches held back out of caution because they were processed before and after the affected batches, were meant for distribution only in Japan, according to ABC. 

The Spanish manufacturer for the U.S. biotechnology company, Rovi, said in a statement on Thursday that it is conducting an investigation into the matter. It also said that the contaminated vaccine doses had only been shipped to Japan. “The detection of this particulate matter refers to certain vials of one product lot distributed exclusively in Japan,” the Spanish pharma company said.

The episode once again put the focus on the need for countries to develop their own, safe Covid-19 vaccines, which are now produced by very few countries, including Iran. 

Iran was among the few countries to warn about the safety of American, British, and French vaccines. In a speech delivered in January 2021, Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei announced that importing American and English vaccines is forbidden over fears that the Americans and British would seek to test their unsafe vaccines on Iranians. 

“Importing American and English vaccines into the country is forbidden. I have said this to officials and I am saying it publicly now. If the Americans had managed to produce a vaccine, this corona disaster would not have occurred in their own country. A few days ago, they registered 4,000 deaths in the course of 24 hours. If they know how to produce a vaccine and if their Pfizer company can produce a vaccine, why would they give it to us? Well, they can use it for themselves so that they will not have so many deaths and so many victims. The same is true of England. Therefore, they are not trustworthy. I do not really trust them,” the Leader said at the time, according to the khamenei.ir. 

He warned that “perhaps they sometimes want to test their vaccines on other nations to see if it works or not. Therefore, we should not obtain a vaccine from the U.S. and England.”

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