WASHINGTON DC: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appears to have reached an agreement with US drug maker Pfizer Inc. for the purchase of additional supplies of your COVID-19 vaccine.
Suga sought the purchase with the goal of accelerating Japan’s Covid vaccination program, which has lagged behind other nations ’inoculation impulses.
Suga, who was in Washington to talk to President Joe Biden at the White House, ended his visit to Washington on Saturday with a phone call to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.
Commenting on the call, Taro Kono, the Japanese cabinet minister in charge of overseeing the vaccines, told Japanese television media that the two sides “have virtually reached an agreement” on the purchase of Pfizer vaccines.
Japan is seeking an agreement from Pfizer to ensure that enough vaccines are delivered in September to allow vaccination of all eligible Japanese.
Japan previously signed agreements with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna. However, the Pfizer product is the only vaccine that Japan has not yet approved.
The Japanese government says it has reached 314 million doses, enough to cover its entire population by the end of this year. This includes 144 million doses of Pfizer.
Although Japan began inoculating its population in mid-February, it only vaccinated less than 1 percent of its citizens.
Vaccine shipments have been hampered by a shortage of supplies.
Officials have said a steady supply of vaccines will begin arriving in Japan from May.
On April 17, Japan reported 4,532 new cases of Covid, for a total of 525,218 since the pandemic began. Deaths caused by COVID-19 have reached 9,584.