Japan said on Friday it would consider sharing its COVID-19 vaccines with other countries, as a ruling party committee urged it to provide part of its AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) vaccine stock to Taiwan.
Taiwan is grappling with a spike in domestic infections and has only vaccinated around 1% of its population, while Japan has obtained over 400 million doses, double what it needs for its adult population . Read more
“We believe it is important to ensure equitable access to safe and effective vaccines in every country and region to achieve universal health coverage,” Japanese chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato told a conference Press.
“We will quickly review and consider a concrete course of action for how we are providing other countries and regions with vaccines that are beyond the amount needed for those we need at home.” “
Masahisa Sato, head of a Japanese ruling party committee on relations with Taiwan, said on Friday that the government should provide vaccines to Taiwan as soon as possible, adding that “when Japan needed Taiwan sent us 2 million. of masks ”.
Kato declined to say whether Tokyo has received sourcing requests from specific countries.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the government is working hard to obtain vaccines through manufacturers or the COVAX global sharing program.
Taipei was also looking for “like-minded countries to help get vaccines, and the efforts haven’t stopped,” he added.
Japan approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine last week and has pledged to purchase 120 million doses. But there are no immediate plans to use the injections in the country, amid lingering concerns raised internationally about blood clots. Read more
AstraZeneca’s local partner Daiichi Sankyo Co (4568.T) began bottling the vaccine in March and the stock is currently estimated at around 30 million doses which will expire in September if not used.
The amount is expected to increase as AstraZeneca this week added Nipro Corp (8086.T) as the third local partner to complete the filling and packaging of the vaccine. Read more
Japan began its inoculation campaign in mid-February, later than most major economies and using imported doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE (22UAy.DE).
A vaccine developed by Moderna (MRNA.O) was also put into service this week with the opening of mass vaccination centers.
Japan has administered 10.6 million doses through Wednesday, about a sixth of the vaccine it has imported so far, based on government data and schedules. By September, the projected supply will reach 414 million doses, double what the country needs for its adult population.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will host a summit on June 2 on securing vaccine supplies to countries in need through the World Health Organization’s COVAX program. So far, Japan has pledged money for this effort, but no vaccines.
Japan will likely keep some of AstraZeneca’s adenovirus-like injections for people allergic to mRNA-like vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna, and donate the rest, said Haruka Sakamoto, a doctor and researcher at Keio University in Tokyo.
“Japan will probably announce that it will donate the AZ vaccine it already has a contract with and supply COVAX with the AZ vaccine it will produce in Japan,” she said.
A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said it was up to the Japanese government how the doses were used.
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