Covid-19: Japan finalizes agreement to obtain AstraZeneca vaccines

Japan has finalized its agreement with British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to acquire a total of 120 million doses of its vaccine against Covid-19 if its effectiveness is confirmed, the Japanese Ministry of Health announced on Friday.

The signing, which follows a preliminary agreement announced last August between Tokyo and AstraZeneca, provides for the delivery to Japan of 30 million doses in the first quarter of 2021.

The archipelago adopted a law in early December ensuring that vaccines against the coronavirus will be provided free of charge to its 126 million inhabitants.

The vaccination campaign could start in the country as early as next March, according to the Kyodo news agency.

The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the British University of Oxford became this week the first to see its efficacy results validated by a scientific journal, The Lancet.

The publication of these results, scrutinized by independent scientists, confirms that this vaccine is effective at 70% on average.

Beyond its agreement with AstraZeneca, which should allow the vaccination of 60 million inhabitants of the country, Japan has also already pre-ordered two other vaccines for a total of 85 million people from the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the biotech American Moderna Therapeutics.

Relatively untouched by the pandemic so far, with some 2,400 deaths and 168,000 cases, however, Japan is currently facing another worrying wave.

A new record of daily infections was reached on Thursday, with nearly 3,000 new cases of Covid-19 in the country, which is due to host the Olympics next summer.

The organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, postponed for a year because of the pandemic, assure that they are planning a wide range of measures against the virus to allow the event to take place even without a vaccine.

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