Japan is investigating the death of two men who received jabs from batches of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine suspended from use due to contamination, the health ministry said Saturday.
The men aged 30 and 38 died earlier this month after getting their second Moderna doses from one of three manufacturing lots suspended by the government on Thursday after several vials were found to be contaminated, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said the cause of death was still being investigated and “currently, causal relations with the vaccinations are unknown.”
Both men contracted fever after receiving their vaccinations and neither had underlying health conditions or allergic history, the ministry said.
Japan halted the use of 1.63 million Moderna doses shipped to 863 vaccination centers nationwide, more than a week after the domestic distributor, Takeda Pharmaceutical, received reports of contaminants in some vials.
Takeda, which is in charge of sales and distribution of the Moderna shot in Japan, said it received reports from several vaccination centers that "foreign substances" have been found inside unopened vials.
The government and Moderna had said no safety or efficacy issues had been identified and the suspension was just a precaution.
The contaminant is believed to be metallic particles, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing health ministry sources.
Around 44 percent of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated, as the country battles a record surge of virus cases driven by the more contagious Delta variant.
Over 15,700 people have died from COVID-19 in the country, and large parts of Japan are under strict virus restrictions.