JAPAN VOWS TO PROCURE ENOUGH COVID VACCINES BY END OF SEPTEMBER
Japan's vaccine minister said Sunday that Pfizer Inc. will increase the supply of its coronavirus vaccine, allowing the country to procure enough doses by the end of September to inoculate all eligible residents.
Taro Kono said on a Fuji TV program that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla agreed to boost supply during telephone talks Saturday held as part of the premier's three-day visit to Washington for a meeting with President Joe Biden. "We will work on a detailed schedule," Kono said during the program, Kyodo News reported.
Under its current contracts with the US pharmaceutical giant, Japan is due to receive enough doses for two shots for 72 million people. In all, the government currently plans to offer vaccination to all residents over 16, or some 110 million people.
Kono, meanwhile, said Pfizer is expected to file a request to expand the use of its vaccine to adolescents aged 12 to 15, having submitted a similar request in the US. The government will take this into account in rolling out vaccinations, he said.
Japan trails far behind countries such as Britain and the US in providing vaccinations. Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine supplier approved in Japan at present and all supplies are imported. Britain's AstraZeneca Plc filed for approval of its COVID-19 vaccine in early February, followed by US biotechnology company Moderna Inc. in March, Mainichi Shimbun also reported.