Japan’s Meiji Holdings Says Drug Unit Started Late-Stage Trial for COVID Vaccine

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Meiji Holdings Co said on Tuesday its drug subsidiary had started a Phase III trial of an mRNA-based vaccine for COVID-19.

Meiji Seika Pharma had started the late-stage trial among 780 subjects in Japan, with the test period running from November to April 2024, Meiji said in a statement.

The trial will test the effectiveness of the vaccine, developed by U.S.-based Arcturus Therapeutics Inc, in comparison with the mRNA shot developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE.

The trial was partially funded by Japan’s health ministry, Meiji said, adding that it aimed at establishing a domestic production system for vaccines with a government subsidy.

Japan has depended largely on imported mRNA vaccines for its COVID inoculation campaign.

Daiichi Sankyo Co of Japan said last month its mRNA vaccine candidate had been successful in a trial as a booster shot. The company plans to submit it to regulators in January 2023.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift)

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