Japan is considering offering a fourth COVID vaccine – Yomiuri

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A local resident receives a booster shot of the moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a mass vaccination center run by the Japanese Self-Defense Force in Tokyo, Japan January 31, 2022. Eugene Hoshiko/Pool via REUTERS

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TOKYO, March 11 (Reuters) – Japan is considering offering a fourth coronavirus vaccine later this year, a newspaper reported on Friday, while a government spokesman said a decision would be made based on the severity of the pandemic.

The Yomiuri newspaper said that if a decision were made to give a fourth vaccination, it would likely be vaccines from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Moderna Inc (MRNA.O), which could be offered this summer.

Israel’s Health Ministry said in January a fourth dose of vaccination, or a second booster shot, for people over 60 makes them three times more resistant to serious illness and twice as resistant to infection. Continue reading

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Japan’s top cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, asked about the Yomiuri report, told reporters the government must consider the pandemic situation at home and abroad.

February was Japan’s deadliest month of the two-year pandemic, as the Omicron variant swept through the country while many of the vulnerable elderly population had yet to receive a booster.

The booster campaign has finally gained momentum, reaching 1 million shots on some days and covering about 28% of the population. Health experts warn that new variants could emerge that could lead to another wave of infections.

Japan has agreed to buy 93 million Moderna cans and 130 million Pfizer shots this year.

In addition, the government committed to purchase 150 million doses of the Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) vaccine, which is currently under regulatory review, to be manufactured domestically by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co (4502.T).

Japanese company Shionogi & Co Ltd (4507.T) is also developing a vaccine candidate and this month released interim results showing that it was comparable to Pfizer’s booster shot in effectiveness.

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Reporting from Chang-Ran Kim, Rocky Swift, Elaine Lies. Editing by Chris Reese, Robert Birsel

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