TOKYO: More than 1,000 shots of coronavirus vaccine went to waste in Japan after storage temperatures deviated from a required range due to a freezer malfunction, the health ministry said on Monday (Mar 1), the country’s first such case of wasted vaccines.
Japan became the last member of the Group of Seven leading industrialised nations to begin its vaccination drive against COVID-19 on Feb 17.
It has so far received three shipments of vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, comprising around 1.4 million shots.
READ: Japan begins COVID-19 vaccination in ‘first major step’ to halt pandemic
READ: Japan COVID-19 vaccine supplies to be limited, delaying shots for elderly: Minister
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at a temperature of around -75 degrees Celsius.
A medical institution reported that the freezer malfunction had occurred over the weekend, rendering 172 vials of the vaccine, or 1,032 doses, useless, the ministry said.
It declined to identify the name of the medical institution or the manufacturer of the freezer in question, but said the freezer maker would start looking into the cause of the malfunction on Tuesday.
BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak and its developments
Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram