Japan said Friday it has agreed to receive a supply of 120 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine for 60 million people by the end of June next year from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE., if they succeed in developing the vaccine.
It is the first time the Japanese government has struck a deal over the supply of a vaccine against the virus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory illness.
"We're advancing talks with other companies too," health minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters. "We'll strive to supply a safe and effective vaccine at the earliest opportunity."
Kato said Japan will speed up talks with the two companies toward the signing of a final contract.
Neither Kato nor the companies disclosed any financial details of the basic agreement.
The vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech requires two doses for every patient.
On Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech said they are conducting a late-stage clinical trial of a potential vaccine involving up to 30,000 participants.
The study, started in the United States, is expected to include approximately 120 clinical investigational sites around the world, such as in Argentina, Brazil and Germany.
If the trial is successful, and regulatory authorization or approval is obtained, Pfizer and BioNTech aim to supply up to 100 million doses globally by the end of this year and approximately 1.3 billion doses by the end of next year.
British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc, meanwhile, said in late June it had agreed with the Japanese government to promote talks on the supply of an experimental coronavirus vaccine it is jointly developing with the University of Oxford.