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A 5th batch of Moderna vaccine found contaminated in Japan

A 5th batch of Moderna vaccine found contaminated in Japan

In a further setback to US pharma giant Moderna, a fifth batch of its  COVID-19 vaccine was found to be contaminated in Japan following which the use of another 100 million doses has been stopped.

This takes the total number of Moderna doses put on hold to more than 2.6 million as COVID-19 surges in Japan and the authorities are under fire for the slow pace of vaccination. 

The latest reports of vaccine contamination came from the Gunma prefecture near Tokyo. A tiny black substance was found in a Moderna vaccine vial in Gunma, Reuters cited an official from the prefecture as saying. 

On Sunday the Okinawa region in southern Japan had stopped administering the vaccine on Sunday because foreign particles were seen in some of the vials.

Also read:  Two die in Japan after getting Moderna vaccine shots from contaminated lot

The Moderna lots in which the contamination was spotted in Okinawa on Saturday are different from the three batches of 1.63 million doses suspended earlier, local media reports said.

With the use of 100 million doses in Okinawa and Gunma being put on hold the total number of shots that have been halted has gone up to 2.63 million.

The Japanese health ministry said it was investigating the death of two men who were administered vaccine doses from Moderna batches that were found to be contaminated, according to Japanese news broadcaster NHK .

Each of these persons had a shot from one of three manufacturing lots suspended on Thursday. Both the persons had fever the day after their second dose and died two days later.

The contaminants found in some vials in Japan are believed to be metallic particles, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing health ministry sources.

Takeda, the Japanese company that distributes the vaccine in the country, detected the contaminants on August 16, but informed the government after a week on Wednesday which means several more people must have got the shots from the contaminated lot.

Takeda informed the government that the 7-day delay occurred as it needed time to gather information on which vials were affected and where they were in the country.