Japan to spend ¥1.45 tril on 4th vaccine shots, other anti-virus measures
TOKYO – Japan is set to spend 1.45 trillion yen to take additional anti-coronavirus measures, including securing vaccines for the administration of fourth shots, government sources said Thursday.
The government plans to spend 667 billion yen to purchase vaccines and 439.7 billion yen on treatment drugs, the sources said. The emergency steps also include buying COVID-19 test kits, testing those arriving from abroad, and securing hotels and other accommodations for self-quarantine.
The government will spend the money from funds reserved to fight the pandemic under the state budget for the fiscal year ending this month.
Japan will start preparations for the administration of fourth shots of coronavirus vaccines, a health ministry subcommittee agreed Thursday, after the government said it would procure additional doses from two U.S. pharmaceutical companies.
The details, including whether to actually administer the additional booster shots and who would be eligible, will be determined later.
The agreement of the subcommittee members came after the government said it had agreed to procure a total of 145 million vaccine doses from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc to prepare for the rollout of fourth shots.
The subcommittee also approved the administration of third shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children aged between 12 and 17, with vaccinations expected to begin as early as next month.
Fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines are recommended in Israel and Britain, with recipients limited to medical staff and individuals at high risk of developing severe symptoms.
The effectiveness of third shots against the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been found to wane over time.
In the meeting, the subcommittee members agreed to the health ministry’s proposal to prepare for the administration of fourth shots, aimed at preventing development of the disease or severe symptoms, based on overseas data on their effectiveness and safety.
Under the proposal, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected to be used for the fourth shots. All those who received third shots are likely to be eligible, but the ministry will continue studying the matter.
The interval between third shots and the additional boosters will be a minimum of six months in principle, but the ministry will re-examine the matter after taking into account the situation overseas.
Regarding the administration of the fourth shots, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said, “We need to study recipients (of the shots) and the timing for starting them based on the duration of third vaccinations and the effectiveness of fourth shots.”
Matsuno added that the government will make a decision after hearing the views of experts.