Japan to mass produce AstraZeneca COVID vaccine soon

Nikkei -- Jan 27
Japan is gearing up to produce AstraZeneca COVID shots as it grows desperate to secure enough vaccine for its population of 126 million amid global supply constraints, Nikkei has learned.

Production will be undertaken by JCR Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company that does not have experience producing vaccines but can culture the necessary adenoviral vectors.

AstraZeneca commissioned the company in an earlier arrangement. JCR Pharmaceuticals is expected to produce 90 million doses of the vaccine developed by the British drugmaker and Oxford University.

The move is expected to help ease concern in Japan that the country may not be able to secure doses in a timely fashion amid reports of overseas supply constraints.

An agreement for 120 million doses of the vaccine was finalized by the Japanese government and AstraZeneca in December.

Preparations for local production have been underway since early last year, and Japanese drug regulators have been working on certifying the production facility as well as the two-dose vaccine itself.

Still, it is expected to take until May before the locally produced vaccine can be distributed.

- Nikkei