TOKYO, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- A new COVID-19 vaccine considered effective against the Omicron subvariant will be available to the public from as early as mid-October, the Japanese government said Monday.
Japan's health ministry held an expert panel on Monday and approved the government's plan to roll out the Omicron-specific booster for all residents who have been vaccinated twice.
The so-called bivalent vaccine, mixing ingredients deriving from existing COVID-19 shots and those from the Omicron variant's BA.1 subvariant, is expected to increase neutralizing antibodies against the BA.5 subvariant currently surging in infections across the country.
The new vaccine is under development by U.S. pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna. Following clinical approval, the health ministry plans to begin importing the vaccines as early as September.
Japanese officials say the vaccines will prevent serious conditions among the older people and boost the overall immunity of the society.
Japan on Monday reported 137,859 new coronavirus cases. The country is experiencing a seventh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic driven by the highly transmissible Omicron BA.5 subvariant, logging nearly 250,000 daily new cases last Wednesday. ■