DOH says Moderna COVID-19 vaccines delivered to PH safe amid Japan contamination report

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2021 01:39 PM

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MANILA — Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shots recently delivered to the Philippines are free from contamination, the health department said Saturday, days after Japan halted distributing the jabs due to reported contaminants. 

On Thursday, Japan's health ministry said foreign materials were found in some unused doses of Moderna's vaccine jabs, and the use of around 1.63 million doses manufactured in the same production line has been suspended as a precaution.

The US biotechnology firm had also said the vaccine shots in question were only shipped to Japan

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained only the contaminated batch was disregarded, and not the whole shipment that Japan recently received from Moderna. 

"Sa bawat delivery ng bakuna, mayroon po silang lots and batches, ibig sabihin, one batch can be different from the others, iba-iba," said Vergeire. 

(Every vaccine delivery has lots and batches, which means that a batch could be different from the others)

"We inspect lahat po ng batches ng bakuna bago gamitin at wala tayong nakitang ganyang kontaminasyon dito sa ating mga na-deliver na Moderna," she added. 

(We inspect all the batches that arrive here before we use it, and so far, we have not seen any contamination like that from our deliveries)

There is also no reason for the public to be concerned about it happening in the country, the official said, as Philippine authorities inspect all COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered.

The contamination could have also happened when it was being transported or through the manufacturing site, according to the health official. 

This development will also not affect the country's future vaccine procurement from the manufacturer. 

"Ito pong nangyari sa Japan... may ibang components na nagkaroon ng problema o issue diyan. Hindi po sinabi diyan na ang kabuuan na na-deliver sa kanila ay hindi na gagamitin. Ang tinanggal lang po ay ang batch na 'yon," she explained.

(What happened in Japan was due to the components that authorities deemed problematic. They did not say, however, that they won't use all of the delivered shots. They only removed the contaminated batch.)

"Everytime we have these kinds of order, mayroon tayong protocols for us to ensure na safe 'yung mga bakunang dumadating at magagamit." 

(We have protocols to ensure that the vaccines arriving in the country are safe to use.)
The Philippines received its latest batch of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines on August 15, consisting of 326,400 doses. 

This week, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said the country would accept more vaccine deliveries from the US-based manufacturer, after placing an order for 20 million additional jabs. 

Since the government's inoculation program started in March, at least 13.3 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, government data showed.