Daiichi Sankyo in talks with AstraZeneca on virus vaccine supply in Japan

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[June 26, 2020]  TOKYO (Reuters) - Daiichi Sankyo Co is in discussions to provide supplies of a potential coronavirus vaccine now being developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford for use in Japan.

The discussion follows a flurry of supply deals signed by the British drug maker for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine as it ramps up efforts for wider trials of the potential treatment.

Daiichi Sankyo said in a statement on Friday that one of its subsidiaries would receive undiluted solution of the vaccine and then carry out formulation procedures, packaging, and storage in Japan. AstraZeneca said separately that it is in talks with the Japanese government on supplies of the potential vaccine, known as AZD1222.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said earlier on Friday that the government is supporting domestic vaccine development but is also in negotiations with other parties.

"In any event, the government will work hard to ensure that Japan has the vaccines it needs," Suga said.

In Japan, AnGes Inc and Osaka University are working on a DNA vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Shionogi & Co is working on a recombinant protein type, while the University of Tokyo and Daiichi Sankyo are developing an mRNA version.

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AstraZeneca has doubled manufacturing and supply capacity for its potential vaccine to over 2 billion doses.

There are currently 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.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Kirsten Donovan)

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