Sept. 7 (UPI) — A third person in Japan has died after receiving a dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine that was among batches recalled due to being potentially contaminated with foreign materials, Japanese health officials said.
Japan’s Ministry of Health on Monday said in a statement that a 49-year-old man died the morning after he received his second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 11.
“The causal relationship between the vaccination and the death is unknown,” it said.
The shot, the ministry said, came from one of three batches containing some 1.6 million doses of the Moderna vaccine that were shelved on Aug. 26 over fears they contained metallic particles.
Two days after the batches were recalled, the ministry announced there had been two deaths linked to the doses in August, one reported prior to the recall and one afterward.
In response to the two deaths, Moderna with its Japanese distributor Takeda Pharmaceutical issued a joint statement saying the most probable cause for the presence of the foreign particulate in the Spain-produced vaccines was friction between two pieces of metal along the production line.
The companies said that following a health assessment they concluded that “the rare presence of stainless steel particles in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine does not pose an undue risk to patient safety and it does not adversely affect the benefit/risk profile of the product.”
“There is no evidence that the two tragic deaths following administration of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine … were in any way related to administration of the vaccine,” they said. “The relationship is currently considered to be coincidental.”
Japan has approved three vaccines for use, including those produced by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.
According to Oxford University’s Our World In Data project, more than 47% of Japan’s 126 million people have been fully vaccinated against the pandemic with another 9% having been partially vaccinated.