Japan’s Suga Reported to Seek Extra Vaccine Supply From Pfizer

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to call Pfizer Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla, in a move broadcaster Fuji TV said was aimed at securing extra supplies of its coronavirus vaccine

Vaccine czar Taro Kono told reporters Suga is planning to make the call, but declined to comment in detail.

Suga is in Washington on a trip that will make him the first foreign leader to meet U.S. President Joe Biden in person since his inauguration. Japan is facing a fresh wave of coronavirus cases three months before it plans to host the Olympics in Tokyo in July, with the capital and other major urban areas weighing a state of emergency to rein in the infections.

Pfizer’s vaccine is currently the only one approved for use in Japan, and the inoculation process which started in February has so far been slow. Fewer than 2 million doses have been administered to its population of about 126 million.

While Japan has contracts to receive 50 million doses of the Moderna Inc. vaccine and 120 million of AstraZeneca PLC.’s vaccine, it is unclear when they would be approved for use. Rare side effects that appear to be caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine have prompted some countries to limit, pause or abandon its use.

Japan likely has around 11 million doses of the Pfizer shot, according to official figures provided in March. The government estimates it could receive another 43 million doses in May, followed by 45 million in June, with 144 million doses expected in total.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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