Daiichi Sankyo signs pact to supply 1.4M mRNA COVID vaccine doses in Japan

As Daiichi Sankyo holds out for local approval of its omicron-adapted mRNA shot for COVID-19, the company has struck up a major supply pact in its native Japan.

Friday, Daiichi said it had reached an agreement (PDF) with Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) to supply its shot—coded DS-5670—for a vaccination program against COVID that kicked off this fall.

Under the deal, Daiichi is on deck to supply Japan with 1.4 million doses of its shot in the 2023 fiscal year, assuming the vaccine wins approval from MHLW. Daiichi submitted a supplemental application for DS-5670 in September.

The financial terms of the deal were not revealed. 

To get ahead of the supply commitment, Daiichi Sankyo is now preparing its production facilities to crank out DS-5670, which the company points out is the first Japanese-made mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Production is slated to kick off this year, the company added.

The original version of DS-5670 was approved in Japan back in August and is authorized as a booster dose to prevent disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Daiichi’s supply pact comes after the company in February reportedly started outfitting a plant in Kitamoto—an hour northeast of Daiichi’s Tokyo headquarters—to produce the shot. At the time, Daiichi confirmed that “production equipment has been installed” at the plant.

The Kitamoto facility is slated to become the first mRNA vaccine plant in the country and could be able to produce 20 million doses per year by 2024. Plans call for a production wing to be added by 2027 that would be government-funded, Nikkei Asia reported in February.