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AstraZeneca, Nipro sign COVID-19 vaccine deal for supply in Japan

AstraZeneca, Nipro sign COVID-19 vaccine deal for supply in Japan

A senior citizen receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a large-scale vaccination centre in Osaka, on May 24, 2021. (Photo: Kyodo via REUTERS)

TOKYO: AstraZeneca and Nipro signed an agreement to supply the British-Swedish company's COVID-19 vaccine in Japan, Nipro said on Wednesday (May 26).

Tokyo-listed Nipro, a major maker of syringes and medical devices, said the contract was for filling the shot into vials and packaging it, due to start next month. Japan's government has agreed to acquire 120 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, enough for 60 million people.

The shot was officially approved on Friday along with the one developed by Moderna. 

An AstraZeneca spokeswoman said the Nipro deal adds a third company to existing deals with Japan's Daiichi Sankyo and KM Biologics to prepare and bottle doses.

READ: Japan approves more COVID-19 vaccines as state of emergency set to widen

Japan's AstraZeneca doses will initially derive from undiluted solution imported from the United States. The supply will gradually shift to Japanese producers, with about 90 million doses to be made by JCR Pharmaceuticals and other local partners.

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.

COMMENTARY: Japan's slow-mo vaccination programme has a lot riding on it

READ: Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine 'highly effective' in adolescents

The Moderna vaccine went into use this week with the opening of mass vaccination centres.

But there are no immediate plans to use AstraZeneca's shot in Japan, amid lingering concerns raised internationally over blood clots. AstraZeneca's spokeswoman said it was up to Japan's government how the doses would be used.

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Source: Reuters/ga

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