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Japan to donate millions more AstraZeneca vaccines across Asia

Five bottles of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are placed at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei, Taiwan, on June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan will donate 1 million coronavirus vaccine doses each to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand starting next week, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Friday.

    Tokyo will also offer 1 million doses each to Taiwan and Vietnam, in addition to the batches of 1.24 million and 1 million shots provided to them, respectively, earlier in the month, Motegi told a regular press conference.

    The decision to provide from next Thursday the vaccine developed by Britain's AstraZeneca Plc and produced under license in Japan came after requests were made from the countries and Taiwan.

    "We took into account the infection situations of each applicant, the extent of vaccine shortages there and the nature of their relations with Japan before we decided on this provision," Motegi said.

    Separately, Japan will provide from mid-July a total of about 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Pacific islands through the U.N.-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing program, Motegi said.

    The more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus, first detected in India, had been confirmed across almost all parts of the Asia-Pacific region by the end of May, according to studies by some institutions including the World Health Organization.

    While Japan has secured enough AstraZeneca vaccine doses for 60 million people and approved their use last month, it does not intend to use them immediately in public inoculation programs due to rare cases of blood clots reported overseas.

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