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October 4, 2021

Coronavirus company news summary – Contaminated Moderna vaccine batch in Japan was due to “human error” – Merck’s molnupiravir reduces Covid-19 hospitalisation risk by 50% in Phase III trial

By Chris Lo

Moderna and Takeda, the distributor of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in Japan, have said in a joint statement that “human error” led to the contamination of a Covid-19 vaccine lot earlier this year in the country. One of the three recalled lots was found to contain 316L stainless steel particles in rare cases. This was due to the faulty assembly of components in the production line that may have caused friction between pieces of metal. However, the companies said the presence of these foreign particles did not pose health risks or affect the risk/benefit profile of the vaccine.

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics investigational oral antiviral medicine molnupiravir has significantly reduced hospitalisation risks or death in adult Covid-19 patients. The announcement follows an interim analysis of the Phase III MOVe-OUT trial that assessed the efficacy of molnupiravir in patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19. The medicine reduced hospitalisation risk by 50%. Additionally, no deaths were reported in patients who received molnupiravir through Day 29.

Malaysia’s health ministry has granted conditional approval for Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine for people between 12 and 17 years of age. According to a Reuters report, the product was approved for adolescents without co-morbidities or allergy problems. Last week, the Malaysian foreign ministry announced that it expects to receive a shipment of a million doses of the Sinovac vaccine from China.

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