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Home » Japan discarding 240 mil. COVID vaccine doses, worth $4.3 bil.

Japan discarding 240 mil. COVID vaccine doses, worth $4.3 bil.

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TOKYO — The health ministry on April 16 revealed that approximately 244.15 million doses of unused COVID-19 vaccines — with a calculated purchase price of around 665.3 billion yen (roughly $4.3 billion) — were being discarded in Japan.

“We purchased vaccines that were necessary according to the circumstances at the time, and we don’t believe they were wasteful,” a ministry official in charge of the vaccines said.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, it contracted the purchase of approximately 928.4 million coronavirus vaccine doses. Of these, 436.19 million shots were given out in Japan by the end of March. Some of the remaining doses were provided to other countries and regions, but the government decided to discard the rest.

While the unit price of the 244.15 million doses earmarked for disposal has been withheld due to contract reasons, the Mainichi Shimbun calculated the estimated unit price at 2,725 yen (around $18), by dividing the budget amount by the number of contracts.

Health minister Keizo Takemi told an April 15 meeting of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration, “Amid global competition to acquire vaccines, we scrambled to purchase foreign-made vaccines to deliver them to all of our people who wished to get vaccinated.”

As Japan lacked a research base for developing messenger RNA vaccines, he pointed out, “We were in a rather dismal state of affairs where we couldn’t produce them no matter how much money we might have spent.” He added, “That was the biggest lesson we learned this time.”

(Japanese original by Shunsuke Kamiashi, Lifestyle, Science & Environment News Department)