1st Domestic COVID Vaccine Nears Final Approval

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry

A government expert panel on Monday approved the production and marketing of a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by Daiichi Sankyo Co.

With final approval by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, which is expected to be given in the near future, it will become the first vaccine for COVID-19 developed by a Japanese company.

However, how to utilize the vaccine has not been finalized because its ingredients correspond to the early stage of the novel coronavirus before the emergence of its various variants.

The expert panel has also been examining another COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Shionogi & Co. The panel on Monday decided that it would continue its examination of the Shionogi vaccine.

The vaccine manufactured by Daiichi Sankyo utilizes messenger RNA technology, which has also been used by U.S. manufacturers Pfizer Inc. and Moderna, Inc. The Daiichi Sankyo vaccine is easy to handle as it can be stored in a refrigerator at 2 to 8 C.

According to the trial results on the vaccine released by Daiichi Sankyo, the quantity of neutralizing antibodies that prevent infection increased to the same level with the company’s vaccine as it did with vaccines developed by overseas manufacturers. Daiichi Sankyo also said that no major safety problems, such as adverse reactions, were identified.

A new booster vaccine is planned to be administered after September for people of all ages to prevent the spread of the XBB subvariant of the omicron variant, which currently dominates infections. Daiichi Sankyo is also developing an omicron vaccine, and hopes to make it available for use after obtaining separate approval.