Japanese drugs manufacturer Takeda has announced that Tokyo has commissioned it to produce US firm Novavax’s Covid jab, as the country moves to making the vaccine domestically.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Takeda said Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare would be buying 150 million doses of Novavax’s vaccine candidate TAK-019. Although it hasn’t yet been greenlighted for use in Japan, it will be manufactured and distributed by Takeda from early next year, if localized clinical trials prove to be a success.
The deal is part of a previous agreement struck between Takeda and Novavax for Japan to produce the vaccine in its facilities nationwide. Tokyo’s pharmaceutical giant expects to have the capacity to produce more than 250 million doses of the Covid vaccine annually.
Japan’s vaccine confidence has been rocked by a recent series of contaminated batches of Moderna’s mRNA shot, with around 2.6 million across the country having to be recalled after foreign particles were found in some of the vials. Three of its citizens died shortly after receiving doses of the contaminated jabs, prompting an investigation.
Novavax, a two-dose vaccine, is protein-based, differing from the mRNA shots made by Pfizer and Moderna. Data published in mid-June from its phase-three trials in the US and Mexico found the shot was 90.4% effective against the coronavirus.
Despite an initially slow inoculation program rollout, 59% of Japan’s population have now received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while almost 48% are fully vaccinated, according to statistics from Japanese public broadcaster NHK World.
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