Japan officially approved the first COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday and said it would begin inoculations nationally within days.
The Ministry of Health of Japan said it had approved the vaccine that Pfizer Inc. co-developed and supplied.
The announcement comes after a government panel reported on Friday that the final results of clinical trials carried out in Japan showed that the vaccine was close in effectiveness to what was shown by overseas studies.
Many nations started vaccinating their people late last year, and since December, Pfizer’s vaccine has been used elsewhere.
Many countries began vaccinating their citizens late last year, and Pfizer’s vaccine has been used elsewhere since December.
Around 20,000 front-line medical staff at hospitals in Japan will get their first shots starting around Wednesday under the new scheme. Next will be nearly 3.7 million other medical staff, followed by the age, who are supposed to get their shots in April. By June, everyone else is supposed to be eligible.
Vaccines are considered crucial to hosting this summer’s postponed Tokyo Olympics. By the end of this year, Japan is projected to receive 144 million doses of Pfizer, 120 million doses of AstraZeneca and around 50 million doses of Moderna, enough to cover its population.
The vaccines that Japan is developing are still in the early stages, so imports must be relied on by the country. Just recently has AstraZeneca applied for approval in Japan, though Moderna has not applied yet. Japan’s dependency on imports, many of which are subject to EU export controls, is also causing supply concerns.