Japan’s health ministry to authorise use of Moderna vaccine, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Japan's health ministry to authorise use of Moderna vaccineJapan’s health ministry is set to authorise the use of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine later this week.

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one being used as Japan inoculates the elderly and others. Applications for the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines have been filed with the ministry, following Pfizer’s, as reported by NHK World Japan.

The ministry will convene a meeting of experts on Thursday to look into both vaccines. The ministry will likely give the green light to Moderna as early as Friday, after gaining approval from the experts.

The Moderna vaccine is then expected to be administered at mass vaccination sites due to open on Monday next week.

As for the AstraZeneca vaccine, ministry officials will carefully weigh its alleged risk of forming blood clots against the efficacy, with input from the experts in mind.

Under a contract with Japan’s government, AstraZeneca will supply enough doses for 60 million people.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has allowed the storage of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus in normal fridge conditions, at 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, for up to 31 days.

According to initial demands from manufacturers, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures between -80 to -60 degrees Celsius (-112 to -76 degrees Fahrenheit). EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) has recommended a change to the approved storage conditions, EMA said on Monday to Sputnik.

The accessibility of vaccines will help in stopping the spread in such a massive number.

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines appear to protect against Covid variants B.1.617 and B.1.618 first identified in India, researchers have reported in a new pre-print paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, CNN reported.

Based on lab experiments involving cell cultures, the B.1.617 and B.1.618 variants seem to be partially resistant to the antibodies elicited by vaccination, according to the pre-print paper posted to the online server biorxiv.org on Sunday.

“Thus, there is a good reason to believe that vaccinated individuals will remain protected against the B.1.617 and B.1.618 variants,” the researchers from New York University wrote in their paper. But more research is needed to determine just how effective the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are against those variants in the real world.

Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the coronavirus variant first found in India as a “variant of global concern”. It said studies show the B.1.617 mutation spreads more easily than other variants and requires further study, CNN reported.

The new research involved serum samples collected from eight people who recovered from Covid-19, six people fully vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and three people fully vaccinated with Moderna’s vaccine. The researchers analyzed in lab experiments how the serum samples neutralized lentiviruses — a type of retrovirus — equipped with the same mutations as the B.1.617 and B.1.618 coronavirus variants.