Days after another batch of jab was suspended due to unknown materials were found in a vial of the Moderna COVID jab and 1.6 million doses from the batch were suspended, Japan halted on Sunday vaccinations in Okinawa prefecture after black substances were discovered in syringes and a vial and unidentified pink substances were spotted in a different syringe, Kyodo News reports.
Okinawa’s Gunma prefectural government said on Sunday that it has suspended the use of Moderna vaccines due to foreign substances spotted in some of them while Japan’s domestic distributor of the Moderna vaccine, Takeda Pharmaceutical, is probing if the suspected contamination occurred during production.
Following Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Gifu, Aichi and Okinawa, Gunma is the seventh prefecture to report the discovery of foreign matter in the Moderna jab.
During pre-inoculation inspections on Sunday, blackish foreign matter, less than 0.5 millimeters in size, was spotted in a vial coming from a different lot another found Saturday in Okinawa containing black and pink substances and from the three lots suspended Thursday.
Over the three days leading to Sunday, about 4,500 people in Gunma were vaccinated with jabs from the same lot number, but no cases of ill health have been reported with the Japan’s Health Ministry revealing on Saturday that two men in their 30s who had received their second Moderna jab from the vaccine lots contaminated with metal particles withdrawn earlier in the week had died.
While the issue is still under investigation, the ministry is yet to confirm if the vaccine played a role in the men’s death considering that more than 500,000 vaccinations had been carried out with doses from the vaccine lots in question.
Moderna contractor that has sent contaminated batches in Japan, Spanish pharmaceutical firm ROVI, said that it was investigating the cause of the contamination, adding that the issue may have originated on one of its manufacturing lines and the results are expected early next week.
Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also launched its own probe to establish if the EU’s Moderna supply has similar contamination problems.