Tokyo, May 21 (EFE).- Japan approved Friday the use of Covid-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Moderna and AstraZeneca, hoping to accelerate the country’s inoculation levels, where only 5 percent of the population has received a dose.
The Health Ministry gave the green light to the use of both injections in its citizens over 18.
Along with the Pfizer vaccine, in use since it began its vaccination campaign in mid-February for those over 16, there are three available Covid-19 vaccines.
The vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical company Moderna is scheduled to be administered in mass vaccination centers. The army will begin operating these from Monday in Tokyo and Osaka, and similar municipal government facilities will also soon begin operating.
In contrast, Britain’s AstraZeneca jab will not be used immediately, due to minor safety concerns, the ministry said.
Japan has an agreement with Pfizer to supply 194 million vaccines of its Covid-19 vaccine and recently reached a pact with Moderna to provide 50 million jabs by September, enough to inoculate its approximately 110 million people over 16 with both doses.
The country also signed an agreement with AstraZeneca to receive 120 million doses of its injection.
The Japanese Covid-19 vaccination campaign is far behind compared to other developed powers. Japan began vaccinating its health workers on Feb. 17 and has now expanded the campaign to cover its approximately 36 million citizens over 65.
As of Thursday, 5.5 million people had received at least one dose of Pfizer (the only one that had been approved to date), 4.4 percent of its total population of about 125.6 million.
Japanese Prime Minister Yohishide Suga has advocated speeding up vaccination and increasing daily injections to 1 million, with the aim of vaccinating all those over 65 by the end of July and continuing with the rest of the population.
However, a recent government survey revealed that about 14 percent of municipalities believe they won’t meet this deadline due to the shortage of doctors and nurses to administer vaccines, and technical problems some are facing with reservation systems. EFE