Japan unlikely to use AstraZeneca vaccine for now

NHK has learned that Japan's health ministry plans not to use the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in public inoculation programs for the time being, even after it is given regulatory approval.

The health minister will likely authorize the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the one from Moderna as early as Friday. They were approved by the ministry's panel of experts on Thursday.

But sources say that the ministry currently has no plans to add the AstraZeneca shot to the list of vaccines covered by the country's revised immunization law, even after authorization. The law stipulates that the government will fully fund inoculations using approved vaccines and will pay for treatment of any health problems they cause.

The European Medicines Agency said last month that "unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects" of the vaccine.

The ministry plans to create guidelines for treating such blood clots. It will also analyze overseas data to carefully set a recommended age limit for the vaccine.