Japan approves domestic use of AstraZeneca jab

A Japanese Health Ministry panel on Friday approved the domestic use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for people aged 40 and above in principle due to a supply shortage of jabs.

The federal government will supply the vaccine to local authorities depending on their demand, with a schedule for safety research, possibly conducted by Self-Defense Forces personnel, due to growing concerns over rare side effects, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare had sped up the approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine in May, but the government delayed supplying the doses, because of concerns on reported rare cases of blood clots among the young overseas.

Japan’s inoculation program currently utilises vaccines developed by US pharmaceutical companies Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.

Also on Friday, the Ministry panel approved extending the eligible age range for the Moderna vaccine from people aged 18 and older to those aged 12 years and older.

The Moderna jab had been used in vaccination programs at workplaces but hit a supply bottleneck, and the central government’s supplies of the Pfizer vaccine have failed to meet the speed of local governments’ inoculations.