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Japan, AstraZeneca expect to reach deal on vaccine

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View of Bio Farma office COVID-19 vaccine production in Bandung

According to the World Health Organization, more than 100 COVID-19 vaccines are under development around the world and at least 23 are in human trials. The company on Tuesday said it could start a high-stakes Phase III trial, involving many more participants, as soon as next month.

Minister Erick Thohir, who also helms the national economic and COVID-19 recovery committee, has claimed that state pharmaceutical holding company PT Bio Farma is ready to produce 250 million doses of the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine per year by the end of 2020.

Top infectious disease official Anthony Fauci said Wednesday he was "cautiously optimistic" of success and that "somewhere towards the end of the year, the beginning of 2021, we will know whether they have a safe and effective vaccine".

The federal government announced deals with Pfizer Canada Inc. and USA biotech firm Moderna Inc. on Wednesday to supply millions of doses of their COVID-19 vaccines to Canada, but questions around cost and precise supply volumes remain unanswered. And so the striking thing about our vaccine is that it gives you a lot antibody.

Moderna is pioneering a new class of messenger RNA (mRNA) medicines. Novavax then adds a so-called booster or adjuvant - a substance that boosts the immune response to help the body build a robust defense against the virus.

Reuters reports that shares of Johnson & Johnson were up around one percent in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told investors on a Wednesday conference call that its price will be lower, or "in a very different ballpark", for larger deals.

Biotech giants like Moderna are increasingly modernizing their IT infrastructures in the hunt for new drugs and treatments, including by use of artificial intelligence.

She said the government is negotiating secure orders with options to get millions more doses.

Immunologist and University of Toronto professor Tania Watts had been concerned about Canada's lack of purchase agreements, but she said she is pleased with Wednesday's announcement.

No financial terms were disclosed for either of those deals. The vaccine may also be made available to Americans at no cost if they are not used in a COVID-19 vaccine campaign, the agencies said.

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