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Coronavirus

AstraZeneca virus vaccine shows promise in trial

UK company expects to begin Japan tests in August

Some of the many vaccines being rushed through development are starting to show promise.   © Reuters

LONDON/TOKYO -- A coronavirus vaccine being developed by British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca and Oxford University showed a robust immune response in the early phases of its trial.

The company is expected to begin trials in Japan in August as the world waits for a vaccine to stop the pandemic.

AstraZeneca's vaccine was tested on 1,077 participants between the ages of 18 and 55. Immune response was confirmed in almost all of the patients. Those who were vaccinated twice showed a stronger response.

The result comes as global pharmaceuticals race to develop a vaccine. A report published by The Lancet on Monday said that a vaccine developed by China's CanSino Biologics also showed "significant immune responses in the majority of recipients."

On the same day, Germany's BioNTech and U.S.-based Pfizer announced updates from trials of their vaccine, saying that it showed strong T-cell responses -- key for protection against the disease.

AstraZeneca's vaccine is believed to be one of the most promising candidates. The company looks to distribute it commercially as early as September, with a plan to produce two billion doses annually.

Some countries are already scrambling to secure a supply of AstraZeneca's vaccine. CEO Pascal Soriot said in a news conference on Monday that the company is in negotiations with the Japanese government for 100 million doses.

Trials in Japan for the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to begin in August. Trials for vaccines developed by domestic companies such as AnGes have already started.

AstraZeneca is set to be the first foreign manufacturer as the Japanese government looks to procure more vaccines from overseas.

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