Japan to get 150m Novavax shots from early 2022

A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a 'Coronavirus Covid-19 Vaccine' sticker and a medical syringe in front of the Novavax logo in this illustration taken on Oct 30, 2020. (Reuters photo)

Japan will receive 150 million doses of US pharmaceutical giant Novavax Inc's Covid-19 vaccine from as early as the beginning of 2022, the health ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry said it has signed a deal with Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, which will handle manufacturing and distribution of the Novavax vaccine in Japan.

Takeda and Novavax are currently developing the vaccine, aiming to use it as a booster and also to make it effective against coronavirus variants.

The vaccine known as TAK-019 in Japan has proved to be 90% effective in preventing infections at clinical trials held abroad, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Novavax is currently preparing to apply for emergency use of its vaccine in the United States, the ministry said.

It is not yet known how long the effect of the Covid-19 vaccine will last. Other countries have begun administering booster shots — third or subsequent doses — to prolong immunity.

Takeda is responsible for conducting trials within Japan and for regulatory submission to the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, the Japanese vaccine screening body.

The drugmaker will commence distribution of the vaccine in Japan after getting approval from the health ministry.

The company will manufacture the vaccine at its factory in Yamaguchi Prefecture in western Japan, with Novavax transferring technology to enable it to manufacture the vaccine antigen.

In addition to the Novavax vaccine, the Japanese government has already signed a deal with Takeda to import an additional 50 million doses of US biotechnology firm Moderna Inc's Covid-19 vaccine from early 2022.

The government is also holding discussion with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc to receive an additional 120 million doses of its vaccine.

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