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UPDATE 1-Novavax expects COVID-19 vaccine supply in Japan well into 2022

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(Adds details on supply distribution)

May 7 (Reuters) - Novavax Inc said on Friday the distribution of its COVID-19 vaccine in Japan is expected to begin in late 2021 or early 2022 and continue for the near-term, predicting the need for protection against variants in the future.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, Japan's biggest drugmaker, is helping bring the vaccine to the domestic market.

The Japanese drugmaker plans to make about 250 million doses of the Novavax vaccine in Japan every year and is receiving funding from Japan's Health, Labour and Welfare ministry to ramp up production.

Takeda will handle the regulatory approvals in Japan, while Novavax will get a part of the vaccine proceeds as well as payments if certain development and commercial milestones are met. (Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Bernard Orr)