200930 Moderna
A staff member sets up an antibody production line at the Ibex building of Lonza, where the Moderna mRNA coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine will be produced, in Visp, Switzerland, September 29, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

TOKYO: Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co said on Thursday it would import and distribute 50 million doses of Moderna Inc’s novel coronavirus vaccine candidate. Takeda will be responsible for securing regulatory approval for the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, with supply starting in the first half of 2021, Takeda said in a release.

The companies were previously in talks to supply 40 million or more doses of the vaccine in Japan. Moderna’s candidate is in late-stage trials in the United States. Takeda has also agreed to produce Novavax Inc’s novel coronavirus vaccine, aiming to make 250 million doses for use in Japan.

The announcement came on the heels of Takeda’s mid-year results, which saw it raise its full-year operating profit forecast by 10% to 434 billion yen, citing one-time gains from divestitures.