Nikkei reported on a press conference held remotely on Tuesday by German drug company BioNTech CEO, which joined hands with Pfizer to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The official is reportedly confident about supplying vaccines to Japan in accordance with the contract with the Japanese government and that shipment will take place immediately after the Health Ministry approves emergency use authorization. A separate BioNTech manager, who sat in on the event, said Japan-bound products will be shipped from several plants that his firm or Pfizer operates in Europe or the U.S. and that even if the EU limits export of vaccines outside of the continent, vaccines will still be transported to Japan from a U.S. factory. According to Sankei, the first tranche of the Pfizer vaccine will be airlifted from Belgium to Narita Airport on Feb. 14.
In a related story, Nikkei took up remarks made to the press on Tuesday by Administrative Reform Minister Kono, who said: “The vaccine delivery schedule for Japan is being impacted” by EU regulations. “The Japanese government is negotiating proactively with the EU and pharmaceutical firms…. We don’t want the EU to hinder shipments of Japan-bound products.” He added that that information on vaccine shipment will be withheld from the media and the public for “security reasons.” Meanwhile, Mainichi wrote that during a videoconference with senior EU officials on Monday night, Foreign Minister Motegi asked the EU not to disrupt vaccine shipments to Japan. In reply, an EU commissioner reportedly pledged “utmost efforts” to ensure smooth exports of vaccines to Japan given the importance of bilateral relations.