TOKYO — Japan’s health minister says the efficacy of Pfizer vaccine was endorsed by a ministry panel, paving the way for a final approval within days.
Health Minister Norihisa Tamura says a formal approval is expected Sunday. The vaccine is already administered in the U.S. and many other countries since December.
Vaccines are considered key to holding the delayed Olympics this summer. Japan is expected to receive 144 million doses from Pfizer, 120 million from AstraZeneca and about 50 million from Moderna before the end of this year, enough to cover its population.
Japan must rely on imports, many subject to the EU’s export control, and a cause for concern about supplies. Vaccines developed by Japan are still in the early stages.
About 20,000 front-line medical workers at hospitals in Japan will get their first shots beginning the middle of next week. About 3 million other medical workers will be next, followed by elderly people getting their shots in April. By June, it’s expected all others will be eligible.