Japan intends to roll out coronavirus vaccines to the public by June 2021, the country's health minister said Friday.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the government aimed to accelerate deployment of a vaccine by building the production infrastructure before research and development of the drug has concluded.
"We will be securing production facilities in parallel with expedited vaccine development," Kato told reporters as he explained the planned vaccination timeline.
Vaccine production plans are typically not made until after a vaccine has been fully developed and approved for use.
Pledge to Gavi
This announcement came shortly after Japan's Prime Minister Abe Shinzo pledged $300 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, toward the development of a vaccine.
"We need to be well-prepared to deliver them speedily to developing countries once they become available," the prime minister said during the virtual Global Vaccine Summit on Thursday.
Japan is not the only country looking for creative solutions during the coronavirus pandemic. Pharmaceutical companies across the world have expedited their vaccine research and development to combat COVID-19.
In the U.S., investing in multiple stages of research simultaneously has accelerated the development of a vaccine. Like Japan, U.S. officials and scientists are also optimistic that a vaccine will be ready by the first half of 2021.
Trump Administration Selects 5 Coronavirus Vaccine Candidates as Finalists: NYT The selected companies will get access to additional government funds, help in running clinical trials, and financial and logistical support, the paper reported
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the highly infectious coronavirus, has killed nearly 400,000 people around the world and crippled economies.
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The coronavirus crisis has also crippled immunization infrastructures, and experts warn that rebuilding these production and supply chains is essential for the rapid deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine.