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Coronavirus

Shionogi says looking to provide COVID-19 vaccine this year

Ministry will make a decision on the vaccine as early as May 20

Shionogi started trials of its COVID-19 vaccine in December, 2020. 

OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Japanese drugmaker Shionogi is expecting to provide a coronavirus vaccine within the year if conditions are met, its president said Monday.

It would be the first domestically produced vaccine for the virus.

With COVID-19 vaccines developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and other drugmakers already in use around the world, securing enough study participants for large-scale clinical trials has become a barrier for latecomers including Shionogi.

Shionogi is currently discussing with Japan's health ministry a framework that would enable the efficacy and safety of the vaccine to be evaluated even with small-scale trials.

The company hopes "to contribute to the early containment of the coronavirus pandemic through the concentrated investment of management resources," Shionogi President Isao Teshirogi said during a virtual press conference.

It has already completed a production line capable of delivering vaccine doses for 10 million people per year, and plans to further increase capacity.

Also Monday, Takeda Pharmaceutical said its domestic clinical trial has confirmed that a COVID-19 vaccine developed by its U.S. partner Moderna helped increase antibodies in everyone who was vaccinated.

"No major safety concerns were reported," Takeda Pharmaceutical said in a statement after submitting the result to a Japanese administrative body, the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will make a decision on whether to give the vaccine the green light as early as May 20, based on the agency's review.

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