When will Asia get COVID-19 vaccines? Five things to know

When will Asia get COVID-19 vaccines? Five things to know

Production and distribution hurdles mean many countries will wait months

TOKYO — Coronavirus vaccinations are set to begin Tuesday in the U.K., opening a new chapter in the fight against a pandemic that has claimed 1.5 million lives and driven the global economy into the worst downturn in nearly a century.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced on Nov. 9 that their vaccine candidate is more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, while U.S. biotech company Moderna soon followed with its own candidate offering similar efficacy.

So, how soon will such vaccines be available in Asia? Experts warn that it will be months before the public can receive inoculations. Here are five things you need to know.

When will vaccines be approved?

Each country’s approval process allowing domestic use of a vaccine will take time.

Pfizer has tested its vaccine on 44,000 people in six countries, but only 5% of them have Asian backgrounds. Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency argues that while the global results will be taken into account, separate tests need to be conducted on Japanese individuals to prove efficacy and safety.