National / Science & Health

Japan and Pfizer reach COVID-19 vaccine deal to treat 60 million people

KYODO/Bloomberg

The government has reached a deal to have Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE supply 120 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine to Japan by the end of June 2021, if the medicine proves effective.

The supply from the U.S. pharmaceutical giant and its German partner is enough to treat 60 million people.

“We’re advancing talks with other companies too,” health minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters Friday. “We’ll strive to supply a safe and effective vaccine at the earliest opportunity.”

Kato said Japan will speed up talks with the two companies toward signing the final contract. But neither he nor the companies involved disclosed any financial details of the basic agreement.

This is Japan’s first advance deal for a vaccine to fight the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19.

This week, Pfizer and BioNTech said they were conducting a late-stage clinical trial of a potential vaccine involving up to 30,000 participants and set a goal of submitting it for regulatory review as soon as October.

The study, which began in the United States, is expected to include approximately 120 clinical investigational sites around the world, including in Argentina, Brazil and Germany.

If the trial is successful, and regulatory authorization or approval is obtained, Pfizer and BioNTech aim to supply up to 100 million doses globally by the end of the year and about 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC, meanwhile, said in late June it had agreed with the Japanese government to promote talks on supplying an experimental vaccine it is jointly developing with the University of Oxford.

Pfizer and BioNTech previously announced a $2 billion (¥212 billion) deal to supply an initial 100 million doses of a vaccine to the United States.

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