Two days after Japan announced the suspension of 1.6 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccines due to contamination reports, the country accounted for two deaths from Moderna recipients on Saturday, Aug. 28.
Japan’s health ministry revealed that the two patients in their 30s died days after receiving one of the Moderna shots belonging to the batch that Japan postponed as a precaution. An investigation is being conducted over the cause of death.
Although the vaccines the patients were administered were among the suspected batch, a health ministry official told reporters that there was no proof that their vaccinations included pollutants.
Each of the men who died on Saturday had a fever the day after receiving his second dose and died two days later.
In a statement on Saturday, Moderna and Takeda, the pharmaceutical company in charge of vaccine distribution in the country, said while a formal probe was still underway, there had not been evidence that the men died due to the jabs.
According to Reuters, three batches were suspended due to suspicion of contamination, reportedly the presence of metallic particles on Thursday. But the measure was only a precaution, not because safety or efficacy problems had emerged.
Infection control manager Fumie Sakamoto of Tokyo’s St. Luke’s International Hospital said now was still a premature time to conclude anything.
“There may only be a temporal relationship between vaccination and death,” Sakamoto told the news media. “There are so many things we still don’t know to make any conclusions on these two cases.”
More than 124 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been offered in Japan, with around 44% of the population fully immunized, per Reuters.
Although there were recorded deaths among those who had received the COVID-19 vaccine jabs, the health ministry said that links between the shots and the cause of death had not been identified.
Fatalities among the vaccinated people in Japan stood at 991 cases with those who received the Pfizer jab and 11 with the Moderna recipients. For the Moderna shot, adverse events have been observed at a rate of 0.01 percent.