4,400 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine spoiled en route to Maine due to inadequate refrigeration

In this illustration, a syringe is seen in front of the Moderna logo.(Photo Illustration by Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Public health authorities in Maine said Tuesday that more than 4,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine en route to the state exceeded temperature requirements and were spoiled.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Tuesday the 4,400 doses of Moderna’s vaccine exceeded the required temperature during their journey to 35 sites in the state. He said the sites have set the vaccine doses aside and will receive replacement doses on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Shah said Operation Warp Speed and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating how and why the error happened. 

RELATED: California becomes first state to top 3 million virus cases

According to the Portland Press Herald, Moderna will evaluate the possibly contaminated batch to see if they are still safe to be administered. Moderna hasn’t yet responded to FOX Television Stations’ request for a comment.

The biotech company said its vaccines must be shipped and stored at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for up to six months. It can be kept at regular refrigerated temperatures, between 36 degrees Fahrenheit to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, for 30 days. Once removed, the vaccines can remain stable at room temperature for up to 12 hours.

Maine has had more than 500 deaths and more than 34,000 positive cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic.

The state reported more than 81,000 people have received either Moderna’s or Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccines since mid-December. Nearly 69,000 people have received their first dose, and more than 12,000 people have received their second dose. The vaccines are currently available to first responders, emergency personnel, critical infrastructure workers and people 70 years old and older. 

Nationwide, more than 31 million doses had been distributed and more than 12 million people received the first of two doses, according to the CDC.

RELATED: US surpasses 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, more than any other country in the world

Maine’s possible setback in the fight against the coronavirus came on the same day the country announced that more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. The death toll is greater than the population of New Orleans, Cleveland or Tampa, Florida. It’s nearly equal to the number of American lives lost annually to strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, flu and pneumonia combined.

More than 120,000 patients with the virus are in the hospital in the U.S., according to the COVID Tracking Project, twice the number who filled wards during previous peaks. On a single day last week, the U.S. recorded more than 4,400 deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.