Unused COVID-19 vaccines in Japan are set to reach tens of millions of doses, as the country is poised to approve two more shots and the pace of its inoculation campaign remains slow, Reuters reports.

Japan is already the largest importer of COVID-19 vaccines from the EU, for example, accounting for 40% of such exports.

So, how to get vaccines into arms faster? The health ministry is now asking all prefectures to consider setting up mass inoculation centers that will offer Moderna’s shot, reports Osamu Tsukimori, after plans for large-scale vaccination sites in Tokyo and Osaka were unveiled.

A container holding Moderna Inc.'s coronavirus vaccine is off-loaded after arriving at Kansai Airport in Osaka Prefecture, on April 30. | KYODO
A container holding Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is off-loaded after arriving at Kansai Airport in Osaka Prefecture on April 30. | KYODO

The government is also setting itself the lofty aim of administering 1 million shots per day, PM Suga said Friday. At that rate, it would take about seven months for every person in the country aged 16 and older to receive both their shots.

Yet many other countries have barely begun vaccinations as developed countries hog supplies. While the U.S. has backed introducing a temporary waiver of coronavirus vaccine patent rights to speed the rollout, the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association said Friday it opposes the move.

Yesterday’s (and last Sunday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (100 or over): Tokyo 1,032 (879), Osaka 847 (1,057), Fukuoka 529 (417), Hokkaido 506 (326), Aichi 473 (350), Hyogo 366 (539), Kanagawa 338 (247), Saitama 279 (290), Hiroshima 195 (87), Kyoto 159 (164), Chiba 152 (182), Okayama 151 (114), Gifu 104 (58), Okinawa 103 (57). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker