Japan is studying the possibility of mixing doses of AstraZeneca’s covid vaccine with those developed by other manufacturers in an attempt to speed up the pace of vaccination, the minister responsible for the immunization plan said on Sunday.
Japan, which previously relied on Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine in July and guaranteed 2 million doses.
“I asked the Ministry of Health to provide an opinion on the use of AstraZeneca vaccines for the first dose and Pfizer for the second, or AstraZeneca for the first dose and Moderna for the second,” said the head of the vaccine program, Taro Kono, on the Fuji Television network.
This could speed up vaccinations by shortening the intervals between the first and second doses, he said.
The two doses of AstraZeneca are given eight weeks apart, longer than for other vaccines.
Japan is battling its worst wave of infections, driven by the Delta variant, with new daily infections exceeding 25,000 this month for the first time.
The country’s vaccination rate has lagged behind that seen in other developed nations. Japan inoculated 54% of its population with at least one dose and fully vaccinated 43% of its population, according to a Reuters vaccine tracker.