1st batch of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Japan

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1st batch of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Japan

OSAKA

The first batch of the coronavirus vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical maker Moderna Inc arrived in Japan on Friday, with the government planning to use it at mass vaccination centers following expected approval in May.

It will become the second type of shot available in the country after the one developed by Pfizer Inc if a health ministry panel greenlights it on May 20. Moderna's Japanese partner Takeda Pharmaceutical Co has filed for approval of the vaccine with the ministry.

The Moderna vaccine that arrived at Kansai airport in Osaka Prefecture from Belgium is expected to be used at large-scale COVID-19 vaccination centers that the central government plans to open in Tokyo and Osaka, according to the government.

Japan has a supply agreement with Moderna for 50 million doses of the vaccine, enough for 25 million people, or about one-fifth of the entire population.

Their delivery is expected to help speed up the inoculation rollout as Japan faces a resurgence in infections. The country currently lags far behind other advanced countries including the United States in the progress of vaccinations.