Japan May Greenlight AstraZeneca, Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines In May - Health Minister

TOKYO (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 21st March, 2021) Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said on Sunday that the use of the COVID-19 vaccines developed by the UK-Swedish AstraZeneca and the US Moderna pharmaceutical companies may be authorized as soon as in May.

"I cannot foretell, but it is possible that the approval will be received in May," Tamura said on air the NHK public broadcaster.

The minister added that the government was considering plans to expand PCR testing for timely infection prevention.

Tamura further noted that the existing coronavirus testing requirements for travelers from 24 countries where mutant COVID-19 variants are known to exist, could soon be extended to all inbound travelers. Visitors will be required to undergo additional tests three days after their arrival in Japan and observe a two-week self-isolation.

AstraZeneca and Moderna filed for registration of their coronavirus vaccines with the Japanese health authorities in February and March.

Japan is set to receive 120 million doses of AstraZeneca, enough to vaccinate 60 million people. Out of them, 30 million will be manufactured by Daiichi Sankyo and KM Biologics using undiluted solutions shipped to the country by AstraZeneca. Solutions for the remaining 90 million doses will be produced by JCR Pharmaceuticals in the Japanese city of Kobe.

The mass vaccination campaign in the East Asian island country was launched on February 17. Japan has already inoculated 40,000 frontline healthcare workers. The new batch of vaccines will be used to vaccinate 4.7 million medical workers. Starting April, 36 million Japanese citizens over 65 years old will also be eligible for vaccination.

Currently, the only registered vaccine in Japan is Pfizer.