Japan doubles vaccine donation pledge to 60M

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

The pledge adds to a previous agreement to provide 30 million doses and USD1 billion to the 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 programme.

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

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

People wearing protective masks are seen on a train travelling through Shinjuku district in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP