The health ministry said Friday that it has signed a contract with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. to receive an additional 120 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine starting in January.
Shigeyuki Goto, the new minister of health, labor and welfare, said at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting that "we will work toward the smooth provision of vaccines." The contract was signed on Thursday.
The government has already signed contracts to import an additional 50 million doses of U.S. biotechnology firm Moderna Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine next year and 150 million vaccine doses of U.S. pharmaceutical giant Novavax Inc. with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., which will handle the vaccine distribution in Japan.
The country decided in September to start administering third shots of coronavirus vaccines by the end of this year to increase protection.
The health ministry is considering who will be eligible for the third shots and the newly contracted Pfizer vaccine is also expected to be used.
According to the ministry, Pfizer's Japanese subsidiary has submitted an application to change part of the approved content to allow for the third shots.