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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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A bottle of the Moderna Inc. COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Saitama City, Saitama, Japan, on Monday, Aug. 23. Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Japan halted the use of approximately 1.63 million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine on Thursday after contamination was found in unused vials, AP reports.

Why it matters: The pause comes amid Japan's worst wave of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and as pressure mounts to accelerate vaccinations nationwide, the New York Times notes.

Driving the news: The Japanese health authorities said that unspecified contaminants were found in nearly 40 doses of the vaccine at eight locations across the country, the Times reports.

  • Some doses using the contaminated vials may have been administered, but no adverse health effects have been reported.
  • Takeda Pharmaceutical, which distributes the shots in Japan, asked Moderna to conduct an investigation into the cause of the contaminated vials, and told vaccine sites to stop using the shots, which are produced in Spain, AP reports.
  • Moderna "is investigating the reports and remains committed to working expeditiously with its partner, Takeda, and regulators to address this," the company said in a statement, per Reuters.

What they're saying: "We will do utmost in order to avoid any impact on vaccination progress, especially at worksites and large-scale centers," chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said of the contaminated vials, according to AP.

The big picture: Japan is in its fourth state of emergency due to the pandemic, with daily case numbers reaching over 25,000 for the first time on Friday, the NYT reports.

  • About 43% of the Japanese population have been fully vaccinated, with daily doses of about 1 million, per AP.

Go deeper

How one local leader is pushing for COVID boosters

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

At the Triangle View Apartments on B Street SE, Beatrice Evans, 68, is helping her neighbors get their shots.

On Oct. 27, Evans, the building’s tenant association president, is organizing a vaccine clinic to offer COVID-19 booster shots to the residents, largely Black seniors.

Why it matters: 49 of the 50 D.C. residents who since June have died of COVID-19 were Black, according to an analysis of DC Health data first reported by DCist.

Oct 21, 2021 - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing a face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% have received at least one dose.

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5–11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11, pending authorization from the FDA of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, and tens of thousands of pharmacies to administer the shots.

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