Japan doubles COVID-19 vaccine donation pledge to 60 million doses

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will double its COVID-19 vaccine donations to about 60 million doses intended for needy countries, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at a virtual summit on Thursday.

The pledge adds to a previous agreement to provide 30 million doses and $1 billion to COVAX programme, overseen by the GAVI alliance and the World Health Organization.

"Japan has provided approximately 23 million doses of COVID vaccine to various countries and regions across the world, which is the third largest provision of vaccine in the world so far," Suga told the conference.

Much of Japan's vaccine donations thus far have been via bilateral agreements with Asian neighbours, outside of the COVAX program.

Japan is giving away most of its domestically produced supply of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc.

The nation has relied mainly on imported mRNA-type vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc for its inoculation push, which has fully vaccinated about 55% of its population, according to government data.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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