Vaccine may be supplied in Japan in January-March

Moderna manufacturing site

Separately, Takeda Pharmaceutical said on Friday it would manufacture and sell up to 250 million doses of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine candidate every year in Japan, with funding support from the government.

Japan has been slow to ink major COVID-19 vaccine purchase deals like those dominating headlines in the US and Europe, but after last week's tie-up with Pfizer and BioNTech, the country kept the ball rolling with a second order from another major player in the coronavirus vaccine race.

"We want to reach a final contract as quickly as possible, as well as proceed with negotiating with other vaccine developers", Kato said.

AstraZeneca Plc and China's Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co. entered a deal to produce the United Kingdom drugmaker's promising Covid-19 vaccine, the latest in a flurry of global pacts aimed at fighting the pandemic.

The vaccine is being developed jointly by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

This aside, the government is also in talks with other vaccine makers and has set aside about 300 million Swiss francs ($329 million) for the objective, the report added.

It did not give a breakdown for the volume of domestic production and imports or say where the vaccines from overseas would come from.

Meanwhile, Japan is rounding out its vaccine offerings via advance purchase and production deals with other shot majors. AnGes Inc and Osaka University are working on a DNA vaccine, while Shionogi & Co is working on a recombinant protein type. The British drugmaker plans to launch additional vaccine trials in Japan before month's end.

There are now no approved vaccines or treatments for the illness caused by the new coronavirus, but about a dozen vaccines from more than 100 candidates globally are being tested in humans.

Because two doses of the vaccine are needed to immunize people from COVID-19, total costs could be $74 per person.

The Shenzhen-based company must have capacity to produce at least 200 million doses by the end of next year as part of the exclusive framework agreement, its statement on the Chinese social media site WeChat said.

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