Japan Approves Moderna, Astrazeneca Covid Vax
Tokyo: A Japanese government panel of experts approved two Covid-19 vaccines developed by US drug maker Moderna Inc. and the UK-based AstraZeneca Plc, with the Health Ministry expected to formaliae the approval of the use of the two jabs on Friday.
The expected approval, based on the expert 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, will bring the number of jabs available in the country to three, reports Xinhua news agency.
Japan is already using the vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
The country’s vaccine rollout has come under fire for lagging well behind the pace in other advanced countries, with Japan’s inoculation campaign the slowest among OECD nations and allowing its current fourth wave of infections to spread largely unabated, informed sources have said.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to ramp up inoculations to 1 million shots a day and finish vaccinating the elderly by the end of July.
Japan began inoculating its elderly population of about 36 million in mid-April, but multiple municipalities have said they expect to miss the government’s end-of-July deadline, due to a lack of healthcare workers available to administer the shots.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato has said a team to be launched within his Cabinet Secretariat will come up with ways to provide certification and permit people who have been vaccinated to travel overseas.