Japan records another death believed to be the result of a contaminated batch of Moderna vaccines that have since been recalled by authorities. A 49-year-old man who received his second dose on Aug. 11 died the following day, however the health ministry said it has yet to establish if this could be officially linked to the vaccine.

The vaccine dose came from one of three batches of Moderna vaccine manufactured in Spain. A total of 1.63 million doses were recalled on Aug. 26, after two men in their 30s died within days of getting their second shots of the vaccine. 

Contaminated doses were found in Okinawa, Gunma and Kanagawa in late August and early September containing pieces of what appeared to be rubber fragments from vial stoppers that entered the vaccine liquid. Authorities said this was due to incorrectly inserted needles. Another batch was also found containing fragments of stainless steel. 

In its joint statement with local distributor Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Moderna said, “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.” The company further explained that stainless steel is routinely used as metal sutures, surgical staples, as well as in joint replacements and heart valves. 

“As such, it is not expected that injection of the particles identified in these lots in Japan would result in increased medical risk,” Moderna added. According to the Japan Times, the man’s only known health issue was an allergy to buckwheat. 

The cause of death in all three cases is still under investigation and any causal relationship between their deaths and their inoculations remains to be determined. The minister in charge of Japan’s vaccine program, Taro Kono said over 500,000 people received jabs from the three faulty batches.

With nearly 136 million COVID-19 vaccines being distributed in all of Japan, the country has managed to fully inoculate 48% of its population with more than 59% awaiting their second dose. Japan has mostly rolled out Pfizer vaccines with approximately 18 million doses of Moderna administered as of Aug. 26.

Vaccination drive in Tokyo A Tokyo fire brigade staff member (R) administers a dose of the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at Aoyama University in Tokyo on August 2, 2021. Photo by Stanislav Kogiku/POOL/AFP via Getty Images