TOKYO – Japan expects to receive 50 million additional doses of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called on the pharmaceutical firm to boost supplies, government sources said Wednesday.
Together with existing agreements with Pfizer for 144 million doses and Moderna Inc. for 50 million doses, Japan is now set to procure enough vaccine for the roughly 110 million people aged 16 or older.
Suga reiterated in a parliamentary session that the government expects supplies to cover everyone eligible by the end of September after requesting the additional doses in a call with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Saturday.
Japan’s vaccine rollout has lagged behind other countries including Britain and the United States, held up by its slow approval process and the European Union’s export controls.
A little over 1.2 million health care workers and around 19,000 people aged 65 or older had received at least one shot of the two required shots as of Monday, according to government data, around 1 percent of the country’s population.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has only approved the Pfizer vaccine so far, with the Moderna vaccine expected to be given the green light as early as next month.
Japan also has a supply agreement with AstraZeneca Plc for 120 million doses, but the approval process could be held up by overseas reports of rare cases of blood clots.