TOKYO, Aug.28 (Reuters) – Two people have died after receiving COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) which were among batches subsequently suspended following the discovery of contaminants, announced the Japanese Ministry of Health on Saturday.
The men in their 30s died this month days after receiving their second dose of Moderna, the ministry said in a statement. Each got a shot from one of three hanging manufacturing batches on Thursday. The causes of death are being investigated.
Japan has suspended the use of 1.63 million doses of Moderna shipped to 863 vaccination centers nationwide, more than a week after the national distributor, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co (4502.T), received reports of contaminants in some vials. Read more
“At this time, we have no 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 if there is a link.”
The government also said that no safety or efficacy issues had been identified and that the suspension of the three batches of Moderna was a precaution.
Fumie Sakamoto, head of infection control at St. Luke International Hospital in Tokyo, warned against linking the gunfire to the deaths reported on Saturday.
“There can only be a temporal relationship between vaccination and death,” Sakamoto told Reuters. “There is so much that we still don’t know to draw conclusions about these two cases.”
The contaminants found in some vials in Japan are believed to be metallic particles, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing sources from the Department of Health.
Japan has administered more than 124 million COVID-19 vaccines, with around 44% of the population fully vaccinated.
As of Aug. 8, 991 people have died in Japan after receiving vaccines from Pfizer Inc and 11 after receiving from Moderna, but no causation between the injections and the deaths has been established, according to the Department of Health. Adverse reactions were reported at a frequency of 0.01% for Moderna vaccine.
In the deaths reported on Saturday, each man had a fever the day after his second dose and died two days after contracting the fever. There was no evidence their shots contained contaminants, a health ministry official told reporters.
Report by Rocky Swift in Tokyo; Editing by William Mallard
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