Japan receives third batch of Pfiser COVID-19 vaccine

02-Mar-2021 Intellasia | JapanTimes | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The third batch of Pfiser Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Japan on Monday as the country is preparing to expand its inoculation programme for health care workers.

The shipment of up to 526,500 doses of the first vaccine against the novel coronavirus that Japan has approved for use was delivered to Narita Airport from Belgium, where they were produced.

Including the shipment, the government has said it will accept up to 2.66 million doses, with six shots taken from a single vaccine bottle, in March alone.

As for vaccines from other drugmakers, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference Monday that a clinical study is underway in Japan for US company Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine which the US government approved for emergency use last week.

It is raising hope for a simpler mass inoculation process, given that the current two approved vaccines from Pfiser and Moderna Inc. require two shots. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine can be stored for three months at normal refrigerator temperatures and has a two-year shelf-life when frozen.

The US Food and Drug Administration has confirmed the safety of the vaccine based on data provided by the major US pharmaceutical company from a late-stage clinical trial.

The shot is 66 percent effective overall in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 cases 28 days after vaccination, according to the data. For severe cases alone, it was about 85 percent effective.

Japan launched the first phase of its vaccination programme for 40,000 medical workers at 100 hospitals nationwide on February 17 as part of efforts to examine the safety of the vaccine developed by Pfiser and its German partner BioNTech SE.

Full-scale inoculation for 4.7 million health care workers will begin this week, after the doses have been distributed to local governments tasked with administering shots across the country.

Around 36 million people age 65 and older are expected to receive vaccinations from April 12, followed by those with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, and workers at elderly care facilities, and then finally the general population.

Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the inoculation rollout, has explained that the government aims to deliver doses necessary to inoculate more than 40 million people health care workers and older citizens to local governments by the end of June.

The government has broadly agreed with Pfiser over the mass procurement, although it is supposed to obtain approval from the European Union, which controls the export of coronavirus vaccines produced within its bloc, according to Kono.



Category: Japan

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