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Japan eyes COVID-19 vaccine trials in July

Tokyo compensates small businesses with cash payments as government mulls partial lifting of state of emergency

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 11.05.2020
Japan eyes COVID-19 vaccine trials in July

ANKARA

Japan is expecting to begin clinical trials for vaccine to treat coronavirus in July, the country’s prime minister said on Monday. 

Addressing the budget committee in parliament, Shinzo Abe revealed that work on vaccines are being carried on several institutions, including University of Tokyo, Osaka University and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Noting vaccine trials had already begun outside the country, Abe said: “I hope vaccination programs can get underway at the earliest possible date by gathering the world's wisdom,” Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported.

Japan is under state emergency since last month to boost its fight against the deadly infection.

Abe added that his government is aiming to approve the anti-flu drug Avigan to treat COVID-19 by the end of this month.

Early in March, Avigan received praise from China National Center for Biotechnology Development which said the drug produced by Japan's Fujifilm Holdings has been "effective against COVID-19" boosting shares of the company over 15% that day.

Last week, the Abe government approved another anti-viral drug -- remdesivir, originally developed as a possible treatment for Ebola -- for use against the deadly coronavirus, thus making it the country’s first official drug to treat coronavirus.

It was one of the fastest steps against COVID-19 that Japan took just three days after the Japanese unit of US developer Gilead Sciences Inc. filed an application for approval.

Early this month, the US authorized emergency use of the drug for COVID-19 patients.

Japan has 15,777 confirmed cases of the coronavirus which killed 644 people in the country.

On coming Thursday, the Abe administration will also discuss the possibility whether or not to partially lift the nationwide state of emergency.

The COVID-19 restrictions have impacted the businesses in the country.

To support businesses, the provincial authorities in Tokyo Monday began doling out subsidies from $4,700 to $9,400.

Tokyo expects 130,000 applications by the June 15 deadline and has received 68,000 by Monday morning from businesses shut between April 16 and May 6.

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