Contaminated Moderna jab leaves two dead in Japan

The Moderna vaxine has been withdrawn from use in Japan over lethal contamination issues.

The Moderna vaxine has been withdrawn from use in Japan over lethal contamination issues.

Two people have died after receiving Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shots that were among lots later suspended following the discovery of contaminants, Japan’s health ministry says.

The men in their 30s died this month within days of receiving their second Moderna doses, the ministry said on Saturday.

Each had a shot from one of three manufacturing lots withdrawn on Thursday. The causes of death are being investigated.

Japan halted the use of 1.63 million Moderna doses shipped to 863 vaccination centres nationwide, more than a week after the domestic distributor, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, received reports of contaminants in some vials.

“At this time, we do not have any evidence that these deaths are caused by the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine,” Moderna and Takeda said in a statement on Saturday.

“It is important to conduct a formal investigation to determine whether there is any connection.”

Abundance of caution

The government has also said no safety or efficacy issues had been identified and the suspension of the three Moderna batches was a precaution.

Fumie Sakamoto, the infection control manager at St Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, cautioned against drawing a connection between the shots and the fatalities reported on Saturday.

“There are so many things we still don’t know to make any conclusions on these two cases,” Sakamoto said.

The contaminants found in some vials in Japan are believed to be metallic particles, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Japan has administered more than 124 million COVID-19 vaccine shots, with about 44 per cent of the population fully inoculated.

As of August 8, 991 people had died in Japan after receiving shots of Pfizer’s vaccine and 11 after receiving Moderna’s, but no causality between the injections and the deaths has been established, according to the health ministry.


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