Coronavirus Vaccines

Pfizer seeks approval for rolling out its vaccine in Japan

Tokyo raised its Covid-19 alert level to the highest of four stages on Thursday as the number of new cases spiked to a record daily high of 822.
Tokyo raised its Covid-19 alert level to the highest of four stages on Thursday as the number of new cases spiked to a record daily high of 822.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO/MANILA • Pfizer said yesterday that it had applied for approval in Japan of its Covid-19 vaccine, which is already being administered in Britain and the United States.

The Japanese government has a supply deal with Pfizer for 120 million doses of the vaccine made by the US drugmaker and its German partner BioNTech.

Pfizer said in a statement it had made the application to Japan's Health Ministry, along with providing information on tests it has carried out up to now.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference prior to Pfizer's announcement that the vaccine's effectiveness and safety would be priorities.

He added that Japan hoped to have all of its residents vaccinated in the first half of next year and that the government would make every effort for proper arrangements to carry this out.

Tokyo raised its Covid-19 alert level to the highest of four stages on Thursday as new cases spiked to a record daily high of 822.

As at yesterday morning, Japan has recorded a cumulative 190,921 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 2,661 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the Philippines will be able to secure between four million and 25 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Moderna and Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings, the country's ambassador to Washington said yesterday.

Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said in a statement that the US companies were ready to supply the vaccines from the third quarter of next year, if his government found their proposals acceptable.

"We are hoping our government will consider the promising candidates of Moderna and Arcturus for inclusion in our country's pool of anti-Covid-19 vaccines," he said.

The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant Moderna emergency use authorisation soon. Arcturus expects to start distributing its vaccine in the first quarter of next year after early stage trials showed promising results.

Moderna and Arcturus did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At a news conference, Philippine Health Ministry Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire welcomed signs of progress in the negotiations but said each vaccine candidate would need to get regulatory approval to ensure safety and efficacy.

The Philippines plans to buy 25 million doses of a vaccine supplied by China's Sinovac Biotech for delivery by March. In addition, the private sector agreed last month to acquire 2.6 million shots of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in the nation's first supply deal for a coronavirus vaccine.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2020, with the headline 'Pfizer seeks approval for rolling out its vaccine in Japan'. Subscribe