- Japan formally approved COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc.
- Moderna vaccine is likely to be used at large-scale vaccination centers run by the Self-Defense Forces
- AstraZeneca vaccine may not be rolled out immediately amid concerns over rare instances of blood clots occurring
Japanese health officials announced today that two new types of COVID-19 vaccine have been authorized for Japanese citizens and residents aged 18 or older.
In a move that could speed up the country’s slow inoculation rollout, Japanese health ministry formally approved two COVID-19 vaccines developed by US drug maker Moderna Inc. and UK AstraZeneca Plc. on Friday.
The authorization comes after a Japanese government panel of experts on Thursday gave the green light to the two COVID-19 vaccines based on the panel’s assessment of Japan’s own clinical trials of the vaccines as well as those from overseas and the efficacy of the vaccines against COVID-19.
The Moderna vaccine is likely to be used at large-scale vaccination centers run by the Self-Defense Forces due to open in Tokyo and Osaka next Monday.
The U.S.-developed vaccine will also be administered at mass-vaccination centers being set up at local levels, the health ministry said.
The ministry added that the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, may not be rolled out immediately amid concerns over extremely rare instances of blood clots occurring in some other countries.
Japan’s vaccine rollout has come under fire for lagging far behind the pace of rollouts in other advanced countries. Since the launch of the country’s inoculation campaign began in February, only around four percent of its population of 126 million has received at least one dose.
Japan’s current fourth wave of infections has been spreading largely unabated, as the government has declared its third state of emergency over the virus in ten prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, with the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa being added on Friday just two months ahead of the planned start of the Tokyo Olympics this summer.