The discovery of black and pink particles in modern COVID vaccine vials continues in Japan, temporarily halting vaccination programs in many regions. Last week, the Japanese health ministry reported the death of two men after receiving two vaccine doses. According to the BBC report, officials found several black particles in a vial of the vaccine in Kanagawa Prefecture from a pharmacist. Pharmacists found black particles during a test for foreign substances prior to use of the vaccine.
So far, there is no evidence of any health hazard from a potentially contaminated vaccine, the report said. Okinawa Prefecture halted the administration of Moderna Vaccine at a mass vaccination center in Naha on Saturday and Sunday last week, after loaded syringes and black dot-like particulate matter inside a vial were confirmed, Japan Times reported.
However, normal pre-use examination of the vials did not confirm any foreign material inside. A total of five foreign substances belonging to lot number 3005293 have been identified, including a pink substance that was found inside a loaded syringe in Okinawa last Saturday. On August 26, Japan’s health ministry said foreign substances were found in 39 unused vials at eight vaccination sites in five prefectures, Xinhua news agency reported.
On the same day, around 0.163 million doses coming from the same production line of a Spanish factory were suspended for use as a precaution. Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the vaccination effort, said, however, that more than 500,000 shots have already been administered from potentially contaminated consignments. After the foreign substances were confirmed since August 16, Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical, which is in charge of sales and distribution of Moderna Vaccine in Japan, waited until August 25 to report the problem to the country’s health ministry.
Last week, Takeda stopped three consignments of Moderna Vaccine after some doses of a consignment of about 560,000 vials were found to contain ‘foreign material’. The BBC report said that the Spanish pharmaceutical firm Rovi, which bottles the vaccine. He said in a statement that a manufacturing line in Spain may have been the cause of the issue.
In a joint statement released last Saturday, Moderna and Takeda said they were working with the health ministry to investigate the two deaths. However, both companies said they had found no evidence that these deaths were caused by Moderna Vaccine. Japan’s vaccination roll-out has been relatively slow, with just over 40 percent of Japanese people fully vaccinated and about 50 percent receiving a single dose.