Japan has approved COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and AstraZeneca for use within its borders as it tries to jump-start a sluggish campaign and prepare for the Tokyo Olympics in a few weeks.
The Pfizer-BioNTech shot is available, but the new approvals will allow Japan to expand supply and reach more arms.
So far, only 4% of the population has received at least one dose compared to 48% in the U.S., and the country is trying to pick up the pace as it battles another wave of infections ahead of the Tokyo Summer Games that start in late July.
“If more kinds of vaccine are available, it will lead to more doses and help accelerate the rollout,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu, according to NHK.
The Moderna shots will be used at mass-vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka that launch on Monday, but the government will delay the use of the AstraZeneca shots until it drafts guidelines for treating rare blood clots tied to the shots.
NHK reported that Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide wants to see 36 million elderly people, or nearly 30% of the population, vaccinated by the end of July.
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