Japan Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Norihisa Tamura said it suspended the use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday after two people died three days after they received their second Moderna vaccine.
“We’re still not clear about the causal relationship between the deaths and the vaccine contamination. I wish to conduct a thorough investigation,” Tamura said.
On Thursday, Tamura confirmed finding foreign substances in 39 unused vials at vaccination sites in five prefectures.
As a precaution, the ministry stopped the use of around 1.63 million doses, which came from the same production line at a Spanish factory.
Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the vaccination roll-out said that over 500,000 shots have already been administered from the potentially contaminated vaccines on Friday.
Moderna and Spanish pharma company Rovi, which bottles Moderna vaccines for markets other than the United States, said the contamination could be due to a manufacturing issue in one of Rovi’s production lines, Reuters reported.
“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.
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