Hundreds of vials doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine were destroyed over the weekend after a refrigeration problem made them unusable.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that 500 doses of the vaccine were lost due to what the company called “unintended human error.”
“In a statement, Advocate Aurora Health officials said someone removed 50 vials from a refrigerator to access other items and failed to put them back overnight Friday. Each vial contained ten doses of vaccine,” the paper reported. “An internal investigation found the failure was an ‘unintended human error.'”
Some of the vaccine from the batch was salvageable as it could be administered within the allowed 12 hour post-refrigeration period, but clinics were forced to destroyed most of it, as it cannot be refrozen.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said it was disappointed in the mishap but noted that there have been no other reported instances of similar issues occurring around the state.
According to the paper, Wisconsin has already administered 3,905 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
The incident occurred at the Advocate Aurora Health medical centre in Grafton, Wisconsin.
According to Advocate Aurora Health, the company that operates the centre, an employee took the doses out of the refrigerator to reach and remove another item, but forgot to put the vaccine back in when they were finished.
Despite the loss, the company told The Hill its operations should continue without issue.
“The vaccination program at Aurora Grafton continues uninterrupted because we were able to redirect vaccine supply from other Aurora sites, and we expect additional shipments in the near future,” a spokesperson said.
Moderna’s vaccine began its widespread distribution earlier this week.
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease was among the first Americans to take the Moderna vaccine.
He reported feeling only minor side effects, all of which were isolated to the injection site on his arm. He said he felt soreness in the area for approximately a day. The doctor said the side effects were less noticeable than the annual flu vaccine’s.
Despite the rollout of the vaccines, the US is far from finished with its battle with the coronavirus.
Vaccine rollout is significantly slower than anticipated; the Trump administration estimated that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of December. In reality that number is closer to 2 million.
Further, Dr Fauci pointed out that another significant spike in infections is likely to happen in the weeks following the winter holiday season as those who attended large gatherings and caught the virus begin to feel their symptoms.
“The reason that I’m concerned is that we very well might see a post-seasonal, in the sense of Christmas and New Years, surge,” Dr Fauci told CNN. “And as I’ve described it as a surge upon a surge because if you look at the slope, the incline of cases we’ve experienced as we’ve gone into the late fall and soon to be early winter, it really is quite troubling.”