TOKYO — More than 90 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will be produced in Japan by a Japanese pharmaceutical company through a licensing agreement.
It will cover three quarters of the supply the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company has pledged to provide to the country, officials said Thursday. Many believe vaccination would be key for Japan to hold the postponed Olympics this summer, but prospects are still uncertain in a country known for cautious decision-making process and a public wary of vaccines.
The plan is part of 120 million doses that AstraZeneca promised to supply to Japan under a deal the two sides already agreed upon, says Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, adding: “It is very important to establish vaccine production system in the country.”
AstraZeneca has signed a licensing agreement with JCR Pharmaceuticals, based in the Hyogo prefecture in western Japan, the companies say.
The announcement comes as officials are preparing for inoculation in late February, when Japan’s health ministry is expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine. Japan is also getting a vaccine supply from Moderna. Japan says it has secured vaccines from the three suppliers for more than the population of 127 million.
Of the 120 million doses AstraZeneca will provide, the remaining 30 million are expected to be imported by March, officials say.
Japan, which is under a partial state of emergency until Feb. 7, has reported 375,607 confirmed cases and 5,361 confirmed deaths.