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Japan enacts law to make vaccines free to residents

Japan’s parliament enacted a law Wednesday to cover the costs for residents to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, as hopes grow for the early arrival of vaccines following recent reports of progress amid a resurgence of infections.

The House of Councillors unanimously passed a bill to revise the current vaccination law after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged to secure coronavirus vaccines for all the roughly 126 million residents of the country in the first half of next year.

Japan has agreed with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc, American firm Moderna Inc and Britain’s AstraZeneca Plc to receive sufficient vaccines for 145 million people when they are successfully developed, earmarking a budget of 671.4 billion yen ($6.4 billion) for that purpose.

In the accelerating global race to develop vaccines to tackle the pandemic, Pfizer and its German development partner BioNTech SE have recently applied for approval in the European Union after doing so in the United States and Britain.

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