BRUSSELS: The European Union has approved exports of novel coronavirus vaccines to Japan for the first time, EU sources told Jjiji Press on Friday.
The shipment approval is believed to have been given to the vaccines manufactured in Belgium by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc.
The Japanese health ministry is expected to hold an expert committee meeting on Feb. 12 to decide whether to grant a pharmaceutical approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines for administration in Japan.
The EU’s export approval allows the Japanese government to have a clearer picture about implementing its plan to start coronavirus vaccinations in the country in mid-February.
In late January, the EU introduced an advance approval system for exports of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured within the European bloc. As the measure enables the EU to halt exports in cases judged as detrimental to supply contracts signed between the EU and each vaccine maker, there were concerns that vaccine shipments bound for Japan may be affected.
On Monday, at a teleconference with officials of the European Commission, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi sought the EU’s cooperation over the supply of vaccines. The EU side said it will do its best to ensure exports.
Pfizer has concluded a contract with Japan to supply vaccine doses for around 72 million people in the country by the end of the year. Amid the brewing global vaccine battle, however, countries are facing the challenge of securing a stable supply of vaccines.