EU Approves 1st Vaccine Export to Japan

BRUSSELS — The European Union has approved for the first time the export of COVID-19 vaccines to Japan, an EU official revealed.

The EU introduced export restrictions on the vaccine at the end of January, raising concerns that the supply of vaccines to Japan would be delayed, but it is not expected to have a major impact on Japan’s goal of starting vaccinations in the middle of this month.

The approved product is believed to be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine produced in Belgium.

On Jan. 29, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, mandated that vaccines made in the EU be declared and approved before they are exported outside the EU.

If the vaccines to be exported to Japan are judged to be those that should be allocated to the EU, there is still a possibility that the export will be blocked.

Vaccines made in Europe by U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. and U.S. biotechnology firm Moderna Inc. are expected to be supplied to other countries, including Japan.

When Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi spoke with European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis via videoconference on Feb. 1, he requested that the supply of vaccines to Japan not be hindered.