Takeda agrees to supply additional 50 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to Japan

FILE PHOTO: Takeda Pharmaceutical Co
FILE PHOTO: Takeda Pharmaceutical Co's logo is seen at its new headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, July 2, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Takeda Pharmaceutical Co said on Tuesday it agreed to supply an additional 50 million doses of Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine to Japan.

The drugmaker will supply the extra doses from as early as the beginning of 2022, it said in a statement. That adds to an earlier agreement for Takeda to bring in 50 million doses of the vaccine, which has been primarily used in mass vaccination sites and workplace inoculations in Japan.

Takeda CEO Christophe Weber had said in May that talks were underway to potentially double the Moderna shipments to help Japan speed up its inoculation efforts. The company has handled domestic testing, regulatory filing, and importation of the vaccine.

The bulk of the first 50 million doses were expected by June, but global demand has slowed that schedule. As a result, Japan's government has had to halt new applications of companies wanting to set up workplace vaccine centres.

Japan has been dependent on imported vaccines for its inoculation programme, which still trails those of most major economies. The government aims to complete the vaccination of its vulnerable elderly population this month and expand it to all adults by November.

The new deal would not help immediately with that push. But it would potentially provide supplies for booster injections or shots developed by Moderna against COVID-19 variants, Takeda said.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift, editing by Louise Heavens)

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