Japanese authorities announced the suspension of another one million doses of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Moderna vaccines after growing concerns about contaminated batches in different regions of the Asian country.
According to Reuters, two regions in Japan announced the temporary suspension of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday after “foreign substances” were discovered in new batches.
The move comes less than a week after the country halted the use of 1.63 million doses over similar concerns.
The latest decision comes after reports of vaccine contamination emerged in Gunma prefecture, near Tokyo, and the southern prefecture of Okinawa City.
In Gunma, a local official said a small black substance was reported in vials, while in Okinawa, they reported seeing black and pink substances in vials and syringes.
“We are suspending the use of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, as foreign substances were detected,” Okinawa officials said, according to Japan Times.
Following the reported allegations, Japan’s Health Ministry said some of the reported incidents might have been caused by needles inserted incorrectly into vials that then may have broken off pieces of the rubber stopper. However, they did not provide further details or confirm with certainty how the events happened.
However, the ministry asked distribution centers not to use the suspended batches sent to more than 800 centers across the country.
The latest suspension came a day after authorities reported that two men in their 30s died after receiving doses from other contaminated Moderna batches.
According to Reuters, both people who died on Saturday had high fever the day after receiving their second dose and died two days later.
In a statement released Saturday, Moderna and Takeda, the pharmaceutical company in charge of vaccine distribution in the country, defended themselves by saying that while a formal investigation was still underway, there was no evidence that the men died from the vaccines.
Currently, more than 2.6 million doses of Moderna are affected in Japan. Last week, three batches totaling 1.63 million doses were suspended due to safety concerns that “foreign materials” were reported in at least 390 doses, or 39 vials, from eight vaccination sites.
Nearly 1,000 people in Japan have died after receiving any dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and at least 11 were also reported to have died after receiving the Moderna vaccine. However, Japan’s Ministry of Health said it had not established a direct causal link between the injections and the deaths.
In parallel, the Ministry of Health reports that deaths from the CCP virus in Japan number 15,969.