Moderna in talks with Japan to supply 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

(Reuters) - Moderna Inc said on Friday it was in talks with Japan’s government to potentially supply 40 million or more doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, would be distributed in Japan by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, beginning in the first half of 2021, if it receives regulatory approval.

The news comes as the country scrambles to secure access to enough doses of the vaccine to inoculate its population four times over, as it prepares to host a delayed Summer Olympics next year.

Japan has already signed agreements with other drugmakers such as Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca PLC, as well as local ones like Shionogi & Co., to obtain 521 million doses of five different coronavirus vaccines in 2021 for a population of 126 million.

Moderna is one of the leading global contenders in the race to develop a safe and effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus, with mRNA-1273 already in late-stage human testing.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.