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US grants $265m for Fujifilm's COVID-19 vaccine project

Assistance comes as Trump administration pushes ahead with Operation Warp Speed

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government announced on Monday that it will award $265 million to Fujifilm Holdings to help expand vaccine production to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump made the announcement when he visited the Bioprocess Innovation Center at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in Morrisville, North Carolina.

According to the Japanese company, it will invest to increase vaccine manufacturing capacity at its facility in Texas by autumn before starting mass production in early 2021.

Trump said the funding will "dramatically expand their vaccine manufacturing capacity."

Diosynth Biotechnologies, which Fujifilm acquired in 2011 and is also invested in by Mitsubishi Corporation, has a contract for the manufacturing of the drug substance for Novavax, a developer of coronavirus vaccines.

According to a contract with the U.S. Department of Health through December 2021, the government's funding can be used to increase the production of vaccines at government-supported developers such as Novavax.

The funding is part of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's effort to accelerate vaccine development that aims to start supplying 300 million doses, a number nearly equivalent to the country's total population.

In addition to Novavax, the U.S. government has awarded financial support to other vaccine developers including Pfizer. If the safety and efficacy of vaccines can be confirmed in clinical trials, the administration will support capital investment by their developers.

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