TOKYO: Japan’s health ministry plans to hold a meeting of experts on Feb. 12 to decide whether to approve U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc.’s novel coronavirus vaccine, informed sources said Tuesday.
The experts are expected to give the nod to the vaccine, allowing the ministry to initiate the fast-track process for a special approval.
Once approved, medical workers are scheduled to receive the first doses of the vaccine from the middle of this month.
Pfizer filed for approval from the ministry in December and submitted data in late January on additional clinical trials for 160 people conducted in Japan.
The company has concluded a contract with Japan to supply doses for around 72 million people by the end of the year.
The ministry is screening the vaccine for its efficacy and safety based on the results of clinical trials including overseas ones.
Japan is expected to vaccinate those aged 16 or older for free. After medical workers get the first round of vaccinations, people aged 65 or older will receive shots from April. Those with underlying medical conditions will be offered the vaccine next, followed by the other people.