By YEET MAGAZINE | Posted on August 29, 2021 at 1:40 p.m.Updated Aug 29, 2021, 5:34 PM

The Japanese Authorities have launched an investigation after the deaths of two men who received vaccines from 1.6 million doses suspected of containing impurities. Other potentially contaminated batches have been suspended, as Japan experiences a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.

After a sluggish start, the Japanese vaccine campaign has accelerated and 44% of the population has already received their two doses.
After a sluggish start, the Japanese vaccine campaign has accelerated and 44% of the population has already received their two doses. (Issei Kato / Reuters)

Posted on August 29, 2021 at 1:40 p.m.Updated Aug 29, 2021, 5:34 PM

While Japan is working hard to vaccinate its population against Covid-19, the country is wondering about the continued use of the doses provided by Moderna. The Ministry of Health has launched an investigation after the deaths of two men who received an injection from some 1.63 million doses suspected of containing impurities.

Authorities on Thursday suspended the use of three batches of vaccine after receiving reports of foreign bodies in the vials. The nature of the particles found in the vials is not yet known. Moderna and Takeda, which imports and distributes the vaccine in the Japanese archipelago, say they hope for the first results of their analyzes at the beginning of the week.

In the meantime, the news of the two deaths has put a chill on the vaccination campaign in Japan. The two men, aged 30 and 38, who had no underlying health problems or a history of allergies, died in August three days after their second vaccine injection. The doses they received came from the incriminated batches, but no foreign substance was reported.

The Ministry of Health specifies that "the cause and effect link with vaccination remains unknown to this day". "At this time, we have no evidence that these deaths were caused by the Moderna vaccine, and it is important to investigate to determine if there is a link," said on Saturday, in a joint statement. , Moderna and Takeda.

New cases of contamination

The first elements of investigation into the origin of these impurities are directed to the manufacturer Rovi, a subcontractor of Moderna based in Spain. He puts forward the hypothesis of a problem on a production line and assures that the suspect batches have only been shipped to Japan. However, the European regulator has decided to also launch investigations, but has given the green light to continue production at Rovi.

Other lots could potentially be affected in the archipelago. The Okinawa region on Sunday suspended the use of the vaccine after the discovery of new contaminated batches, different from those already suspended, "because foreign substances have been identified".

Record wave of contamination

The authorities fear that doubts about Moderna cool the Japanese vaccine campaign. After a difficult start, it accelerated and 44% of the population has already received their two doses. In order not to halt the campaign, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Takeda will set up a device to distribute alternative doses of serums.

The country is currently experiencing its most violent wave of contaminations, with a record increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations linked to the Delta variant. The government last week extended the health restrictions in place since July to 33 of the country's 47 departments.

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