The Japanese government plans to roll out a new type of COVID-19 vaccine as early as October that is considered effective for the Omicron variant, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.
The so-called bivalent vaccine combines ingredients used for existing COVID-19 injections that are derived from the BA.1 subtype of the Omicron variant, and is expected to prevent the spread of the BA.5 subvariant currently in the United States. throughout the country, contain.
The new vaccine is under development by US pharmaceutical companies Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. Their products were found to increase neutralizing antibodies against the BA.1 subvariant and were also effective to some extent for the BA.5 subtype, according to some reports.
The two companies will soon apply for authorization for their products for use in Japan, according to the sources.
A health ministry panel to be held Monday will discuss whether Japan should introduce the new vaccine, the sources said.
The government plans to make it available first to the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, as they are at higher risk of developing serious symptoms. Younger people may be eligible for the injection, depending on how effective it proves to be.
Japan’s daily number of infections rose to a record 249,830 on Wednesday, and the number has continued to climb since early July during the seventh wave of the pandemic, driven by the highly transmissible BA.5 subvariant.
The drug manufacturers also plan to roll out the new vaccine in Europe.