Japan’s Meiji Holdings starts late-stage trial for COVID shots

A person wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus stands in front of a public awareness notice for COVID-19 protection in Shinjuku district on July 14, 2022, in Tokyo. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP)

TOKYO / MANILA / HANOI / SINGAPORE – 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 US-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-19 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.

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A man shops for face masks in Divisoria, a local shopping district in Manila on May 17, 2022. (JAM STA ROSA / AFP)


The Philippines reported 791 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, pushing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 4,050,866.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases dropped to 18,016, while 19 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 64,921.

Metro Manila, the capital region with over 13 million people, tallied 330 new cases.

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the number of new cases in the country increased by 6 percent compared to the previous week, while in Metro Manila, the number of new cases rose 15 percent. But she noted that hospital admission remains low-risk in all regions.

A notice warning people not to gather in groups larger than five persons as part of restrictions to hald the spread of the coronavirus is displayed at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on Jan 4, 2022. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)


Singapore reported 1,817 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 2,183,605.

A total of 106 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with six of them held in intensive care units, according to statistics released by the country's Ministry of Health.

One new death from COVID-19 was reported on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 1,708.

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A man passes walks past a billboard on the coronavirus in Ho Chi Minh City on Dec 4, 2021. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)


Vietnam recorded 366 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, down 17 from Monday, according to the Ministry of Health.

All the new cases were locally transmitted, said the ministry.

The new infections brought the total tally to 11,521,388. The Southeast Asian country reported one new death from the pandemic in the southern province of Ben Tre on Tuesday, bringing the total fatalities to 43,179.