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Moderna Japan's BA.5 vaccine rollout set for November to December

Moderna's bivalent vaccine against the omicron's BA.1 subvariant is seen in this photo supplied by Moderna Japan Inc.

TOKYO -- Moderna Japan Inc. is set to roll out its COVID-19 vaccine against the omicron's BA.5 subvariant in November to December, it was announced at a press conference on Sept. 14.

    Rami Suzuki, president of the Japanese arm of the U.S. pharmaceutical giant, told reporters that the company was planning to soon apply for pharmaceutical approval of the new vaccine with the Japanese health ministry. The move comes after the firm's bivalent vaccine containing ingredients derived from the BA.1 subvariant and previous strains was put into practical use.

    Visiting Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel has announced that the firm is looking into building a manufacturing plant for drugs using messenger RNA in Japan. Suzuki said that if this plan materializes, the company "would be able to supply effective vaccines for all citizens within several months after the Japanese government gives instructions (on vaccines) during the next pandemic." She indicated that the firm intends to discuss the matter with government officials during Bancel's stay in Japan.

    Bancel explained that Moderna's suit in the United States against U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and Germany's BioNTech SE over mRNA vaccine patent violations came after supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine had become settled worldwide. He said that the firm had been aware of patent infringement since the early stage of the pandemic, and that intellectual property rights are essential in drug development. He also explained his view that innovation merits a due reward.

    (Japanese original by Ai Yokota, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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