The COVID-19 vaccine developed by the American biopharmaceutical company Novavax Inc. was approved by the Japanese health ministry on Wednesday, marking it the fourth coronavirus vaccine to be made available in the country.
However, unlike the three vaccinations that have already been licensed, the Novavax vaccine is a hybrid protein vaccine. The vaccination, according to the ministry, is helpful against the highly contagious omicron strain of the coronavirus, though not as severe as other variants.
The vaccine is manufactured and distributed in Japan by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. The government has reached an agreement with Takeda to provide 150 million vaccination doses this year. The ministry expects to begin distributing Novavax vaccines to local authorities in late May.
People aged 18 and up will be able to get 0.5 milliliters of the Novavax vaccine for each of their first and second shots at a three-week gap, according to the ministry.
In clinical studies overseas, such as in the United States, before the dispersion of the delta and omicron coronavirus variants, the vaccine was found to be about 90% successful in preventing infections and 100% successful in stopping highly infectious people from developing moderate to serious symptoms, according to Takeda and the ministry.
A local clinical trial with Japanese subjects yielded similar results.
At least six months following the second shot, 0.5 milliliters of the Novavax vaccine will be administered. The value of negating antibodies increased from 69.4 to 3,687.7 in a clinical experiment after the vaccination was administered to persons who had taken two shots of the vaccine.
It is expected that people who have already received various COVID-19 vaccines would need booster shots with the Novavax vaccine in the future.
As per the health ministry, research in the United Kingdom found that the quantity of neutralizing antibodies increased dramatically in mix-and-match inoculations including the Novavax vaccine and other shots with manageable safety concerns, such as those from Pfizer Inc. of the United States.
Booster shots have already been slow in Japan, with less than half of the population receiving booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna, mostly mRNA vaccines. Due to popular concern regarding reports of uncommon blood clots, a third vaccine,
AstraZeneca, is rarely administered and is mostly supplied to vaccine-scarce Asian nations directly or through a United Nations-backed program. Around 80% of the elderly Japanese population has got three doses.