Japan Health Ministry Panel OKs Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine

Politics Lifestyle

Tokyo, Feb. 12 (Jiji Press)--A panel under the Japanese health ministry's Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council on Friday approved U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine.

The ministry plans to formally approve the vaccine on Sunday under an emergency process with simplified screening, with a view to starting vaccinations for a first group of medical workers as early as Wednesday. It will be the first time for a COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in Japan.

In talks with reporters, health minister Norihisa Tamura suggested that the vaccine is effective, saying that the levels of neutralizing antibodies in the bodies of Japanese participants in clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine were confirmed to have increased after they were given shots of it. The vaccine is important "for protecting the health of citizens," he said.

Vaccinations are expected to help achieve herd immunity, as well as prevent individuals from being infected with the virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease. Still, it remains uncertain when vaccinations will be available for people other than medical workers and the elderly.

The Pfizer vaccine, produced through messenger RNA synthesis, generates proteins unique to the coronavirus in the bodies of those vaccinated and allows antibodies against the virus to be created inside the body.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press