TOKYO • AstraZeneca plans to produce Covid-19 vaccines in Japan and will begin local distribution as soon as it receives government approval, national broadcaster NHK reported, citing an interview with an official at the drugmaker's Japan unit.
The Japanese government signed a contract with the firm to procure enough vaccines for 60 million people, said NHK.
AstraZeneca applied to the Health Ministry for vaccine approval earlier this month, the Nikkei reported.
The company's Japan unit plans to produce vaccines for more than 40 million people through its partner JCR Pharmaceuticals in Hyogo prefecture, NHK reported.
Japan will receive its second shipment of coronavirus vaccines today, vaccine programme chief Taro Kono said.
The next shipment will have about 75,000 vials of the vaccine, he told reporters.
The government is planning to send out supplies to the rest of the country in the first week of March, he said.
Japan launched its corona-virus vaccination programme on Wednesday, five months ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, using the vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
Around 40,000 medical workers will receive the first jabs, with 800 workers at the medical centre in the capital comprising the first among them to be vaccinated.
Of the 40,000 medical workers at 100 facilities nationwide, 20,000 doctors and nurses will be asked to maintain records on a daily basis for seven weeks after taking the first of two shots, which will be administered three weeks apart.
The survey will be done in a bid to determine if there are any adverse effects from the jabs and to get other related information.
Number of people covered by the vaccine procurement contract between the Japanese government and AstraZeneca.
Following the initial round of medical workers being inoculated next month, around 3.7 million health workers will begin receiving the vaccine, followed by 36 million people aged 65 or older from April.
BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, XINHUA