Suga vows to secure vaccines as hopes rise for breakthrough

Nov 11 , 2020. 10 hours ago – 00:01 KYODO NEWS

TOKYO – Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday reiterated his pledge to secure enough COVID-19 vaccines for Japan’s entire population by the first half of next year after a U.S. drugmaker said its experimental vaccine proved more than 90 percent effective.

“We will continue to negotiate with firms both in Japan and abroad” to ensure Japan can purchase enough doses, Suga said during a House of Representatives session.

Pfizer Inc. has said the efficacy of its vaccine, developed with German partner BioNTech SE, was proved in a late-stage clinical study with more than 43,000 participants.

Japan has agreements to receive 120 million doses of any successfully developed vaccine each from Pfizer and Britain’s AstraZeneca Plc, and a further 50 million doses from U.S. biotechnology firm Moderna Inc. — enough for the country’s population to take the necessary two doses.

Suga said Japan would conduct the approval process for any vaccine “based on the latest scientific knowledge and with a priority on safety and effectiveness.”

Japan’s parliament on Tuesday began deliberations on legislation to facilitate the distribution of a vaccine, with provisions for the government to shoulder all of the costs and take responsibility for unforeseen side effects.