Japan’s ruling party to urge sharing stockpiled Covid-19 vaccines with Taiwan
- AstraZeneca vaccines bought by Japanese government not yet being used, amid concerns raised internationally over blood clots
- Stockpile in Japan estimated at 30 million doses, which will expire by September, while Taiwan is trying to obtain vaccines
“We should provide Taiwan with vaccines as soon as possible,” Masahisa Sato, the head of a Japanese ruling party committee on Taiwan relations, said at a press briefing. “When Japan was in need, Taiwan sent us 2 million masks,” he said.
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It added that Taipei was also seeking “like-minded countries to help obtain vaccines, and efforts have not ceased”.
Japan approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine last week and has contracted to buy 120 million doses. But there are no immediate plans to use the shots in the country, amid lingering concerns raised internationally over blood clots.
AstraZeneca’s local partner Daiichi Sankyo started bottling the vaccine in March and the stockpile is currently estimated at around 30 million doses, which will expire by September if not used. The amount is set to increase as AstraZeneca added Nipro this week as its third local partner to conduct filling and packaging of the vaccine.
Japan started its inoculation drive in mid-February, later than most major economies and using imported doses of the shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. A vaccine developed by Moderna also went into use this week with the opening of mass vaccination centres.
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Japan will probably keep some of AstraZeneca’s adenovirus-type shots for people with allergies to mRNA-type vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna, and give away the rest, said Haruka Sakamoto, a doctor and researcher at Keio University in Tokyo.
“Japan will probably announce that they will donate the AstraZeneca vaccine that they already have a contract with and supply Covax Facility with the AstraZeneca vaccine they will produce in Japan,” she said.
An AstraZeneca spokeswoman said it was up to the Japanese government how the doses were used.