The government will prioritize providing British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC’s COVID-19 vaccine to six prefectures under the latest coronavirus state of emergency, the minister in charge of the country’s vaccine rollout has said.
The state of emergency is set to run through Aug. 31 in Tokyo and Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka and Okinawa prefectures.
Taro Kono, who also serves as regulatory reform minister, said Tuesday that 2 million doses of the domestically produced AstraZeneca vaccine have been secured for distribution this month and next.
On Friday, the government decided to allow the AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to people aged 40 or over in principle. The shot will also be available to those under 40 who wish to get vaccine or who are allergic to the ingredients of the Pfizer Inc. or Moderna Inc. messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines administered in Japan.
The AstraZeneca vaccine “can be used to accelerate inoculations of people in their 40s, 50s and early 60s, who are more likely to develop severe symptoms with variants” than other generations, Kono told a news conference.
Japan is currently facing off against a surge in COVID-19 cases spurred in part by the rise of more virulent variants of the virus, including the delta version.
In May, the government approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for domestic use. However, its use was put on hold due to reports overseas of rare cases of blood clots after inoculations.
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