- Foreign substances were found in a number of vaccine batches.
- Japanese government discovered the contamination over the weekend.
- Contamination could be due to a manufacturing fault on one of the production lines, says Moderna.
The Japanese government has halted the use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, following the deaths of two people who died after receiving shots from the what Japanese officials say ‘contaminated’ batches.
Millions of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 have been suspended after foreign substances were found in a number of batches.
Japanese health officials discovered the contamination over the weekend in a batch of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Gunma prefecture, close to Tokyo, forcing officials to temporarily suspend the vaccination.
The decision to suspend a total of 2.6 million doses of the Moderna vaccine comes after 1.63 million shots were halted last week following the discovery of contaminants in some vials in a batch that was shipped to more than 860 vaccination centers across the country.
While the source of the contamination has not been confirmed, Moderna and pharmaceutical company Rovi, which manufactures the Moderna vaccines, said that it could be due to a manufacturing fault on one of the production lines, rather than anything more concerning.
Japan’s health ministry has confirmed that two individuals who were vaccinated using doses from the batch have died. However, the cause of death in both cases is under investigation and officials claim that no safety concerns have been identified yet. In a statement, Moderna and Japanese distributor Takeda stated that “we do not have any evidence that these deaths are caused by the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.”
Gunma is now the seventh Japanese prefecture to discover contaminants in doses of the Moderna vaccine, after similar incidents in Aichi, Gifu, Ibaraki, Okinawa, Saitama and Tokyo. It comes as Japan battles a surge in COVID-19 cases that has pushed nearly half of the country’s prefectures into a state of emergency.
Since the start of the pandemic, Japan has recorded 1.38 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 15,797 fatalities from the virus. So far, Japanese officials have administered 118,310,106 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.