Japan OKs use of vaccine by U.S. firm Novavax

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April 19 (UPI) — Japanese health officials on Tuesday authorized the use of a COVID-19 vaccine produced by U.S. pharmaceutical Novavax.

Tokyo’s health ministry announced in a statement it has authorized for the vaccine to be used by those 18 years of age or older.

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Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters during a press conference that by adding the fourth vaccine to its COVID-19 therapy arsenal it would provide Japan with “some diversity” in treatment.

Japan previously authorized use of vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

The Novavax vaccine differs from those developed by Pfizer and Moderna in that it is protein-based and Tokyo sees it being as a possible solution for those who the mRNA vaccines may induce an allergic reaction.

Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical, which has secured the licensing and manufacturing technologies from Novavax to produce the vaccine, said the ministry’s approval follows its application submission that included interim results from trials conducted in Japan and trials held in Britain, the United States, Mexico and Australia.

The drug will be manufactured at its Hikari facility in southern Japan with plans for it to begin distributing doses as soon as possible.

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“COVID-19 continues to pose a significant threat to the health and well-being of our global community. We are proud to contribute to the development of Nuvaxovid and to manufacture the vaccine at our Hikari facilities, continuing our commitment to the COVID-19 public health response in Japan,” Gary Dubin, president of the Global Vaccine Business Unit in Takeda said in a statement, referring to the drug by its official name.

According to data from Oxford University’s Our World in Data project, Japan has a vaccination rate of 80% with another 2% being partially vaccinated against the virus.