The Japanese government has reached an agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical to purchase 150 million doses of its locally produced COVID-19 vaccine. Takeda will be producing vaccines based on Novavax's formula.
The agreement, which is still pending regulatory approval, will allow Takeda to domestically produce and distribute vaccines. Japan's biggest drugmaker plans to expand its manufacturing facilities to meet the order, which is expected to be delivered by early 2022.
Takeda said it still needs to finish trials for its own version of Novavax's vaccine, called the TAK-019 vaccine. The company is currently conducting clinical trials in Japan.
According to Takeda, it has already reached an agreement with the American biotechnology company for licensing the vaccine and for the transfer of manufacturing technologies. The company said once the transfer is completed, it should be able to manufacture the vaccine locally.
The latest deal is an expansion of an earlier agreement between the company and the Japanese government. Takeda had previously agreed to produce 250 million of Novavax's original vaccine. Takeda said that if there is a surplus, doses may be given to other countries in need of vaccines.
Apart from producing vaccines locally, Takeda is also currently handling the importation and distribution of around 50 million doses of Moderna vaccines. It has also been tasked with importing 50 million more doses next year. Last month, Japan suspended the use of more than 1.6 million doses of Moderna's vaccines after small metallic contaminants were discovered in some batches.
The nation's health ministry announced earlier in the week that it had received reports of a third person who had died after receiving a shot of the recalled Moderna vaccines. Takeda said it has yet to determine if the vaccine was the actual cause of death and it is still conducting an investigation into the matter.
Japan has mostly been importing doses of mRNA-based vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, which are used for its national vaccination campaign. In recent months, Japan has ramped up its inoculation drive. As of this week, more than 58% of the country's population has received at least one dose.