Initial investigations by BioNTech SE and its regional distributor found no safety concerns with batches of vaccines sent to Hong Kong, after packaging defects prompted a halt in the use of the Covid-19 vaccine in the city.
Early findings didn’t rule out the possibility that packaging defects may have been because of environmental factors during long-haul transport, the Hong Kong government said in a statement, without specifying. The government, BioNTech and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. aim to conclude the investigation within a week, it said.
Hong Kong Suspends BioNTech on Loose Vial Caps, Stains
The city’s vaccination campaign suffered a setback this week when it and neighboring Macau temporarily suspended shots manufactured by BioNTech because of packaging defects. The suspension risks eroding public confidence in the inoculation, which had provided Hong Kong residents an alternative to the one made by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
The defects, which included loose vial caps and stained bottles, affected about 1.3 million doses that were delivered to the financial hub. About 150,000 people had received BioNTech shots in Hong Kong prior to the halt.
Fosun and BioNTech have studied the entire supply chain, including the sealing process in BioNTech’s German facilities, vaccine packaging, transport to Hong Kong, logistical processing and storage after their arrival in the city, as well as inspections at community vaccination centers. They found no “obvious systematic factors” that could have led to the defects from packaging to usage, according to the statement.
The companies also said that they didn’t believe the defects were results of cold chain and logistic management issues. Random testing of remaining vaccine vials with intact packaging didn’t find evidence of leakage.
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COVID cases in Ontario could spike to 30,000 per day by June
TORONTO (Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in Canada‘s most populous province could rise more than six fold, topping 30,000 per day by early June if public health measures are weak and vaccination rates remain flat, a panel of experts advising the province of Ontario said on Friday.
Even if measures to control the virus are “moderate,” the number of patients in Ontario ICUs could reach 2,000 in May, up from 695 on Friday.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last week they may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive intensive care.
(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Chris Reese)
Moderna sees shortfall in Britain COVID vaccine shipments, EU deliveries on track
ZURICH (Reuters) – U.S. drugmaker Moderna expects a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain hitting second-quarter delivery quantities for Britain and Canada, though European Union– and Swiss-bound shipments are on track, a spokesperson said.
The delays, first announced on Friday when Canada said Moderna would be delivering only about half the planned 1.2 million doses by the end of April, come as Switzerland’s Lonza ramps up three new production lines to make active ingredients for Moderna vaccine supplies outside of the United States.
“The trajectory of vaccine manufacturing ramp-up is not linear, and despite best efforts, there is a shortfall in previously estimated doses from the European supply chain,” Moderna said in a statement.
Lonza didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment on any issues in its production.
(Reporting by John Miller; editing by David Evans)
Moderna says vaccines to Canada to be delayed due to Europe shortfall
(Reuters) -Moderna Inc said on Friday a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain will lead to a delay in deliveries to some countries including Canada.
She said one to two million doses of the 12.3 million doses scheduled for delivery by Moderna in the second quarter would be delayed until the third.
Moderna officials in Europe did not immediately comment on the reason for the delays or give the total number of countries that would be impacted.
“Vaccine manufacturing is a highly complex process and a number of elements, including human and material resources have factored into this volatility,” said Patricia Gauthier, an executive at Moderna Canada.
Canada has distributed a total of 2.82 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as of April 14 and 12.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total.
Moderna has been aiming to deliver 700 million to 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 globally this year, including from plants in Europe and the United States.
Swiss contract drug manufacturer Lonza makes active ingredients for Moderna’s vaccine in Visp, but it was still ramping up three new production lines that once operational would be able to produce 300 million shots annually.
The current supply, demand and distribution landscape has led the drugmaker to make adjustments in the expected second-quarter deliveries, Gauthier said.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, Allison Martell in Toronto and John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Arun Koyyur)