Photo/Illutration Moderna vaccine arrives at Kansai International Airport on May 13. (Takuya Nishie)

The health ministry plans to hold a meeting on May 20 to approve COVID-19 vaccines by Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc.

Once they are approved at the meeting, health minister Norihisa Tamura will grant formal approval for their use.

If approval is granted, vaccines manufactured by Moderna, a U.S. biotechnology firm, will be used at mass vaccination centers in Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture from May 24.

Both vaccines are expected to be approved to use for people 18 or older. Two shots will be required for effective immunization. 

The central government has said it will secure 100 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, which must be stored at minus 20 degrees. Like Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine, it uses genetic material called Messenger RNA.

The government is expected to secure 150 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine but has not decided to whom the vaccine will be administered to.

There have been reports of people experiencing thrombosis after receiving it, the cause of which is not yet known. Some European countries have stopped administering AstraZeneca's vaccine or restricted its use.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine can be stored under refrigeration at around 2 to 8 degrees and uses a virus vector that delivers necessary genetic material.