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Japanese pharmaceutical firm to build factory in Kobe to make COVID-19 vaccine

This artist's rendition shows the planned plant that will manufacture the bulk substance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. (Image courtesy of JCR Pharmaceuticals Co.)

KOBE -- A Japanese pharmaceutical firm and the city of Kobe announced on March 4 that the company will construct a plant in the western Japan city to manufacture the bulk substance of a COVID-19 vaccine.

    JCR Pharmaceuticals Co., headquartered in the neighboring city of Ashiya, will build the plant at an industrial complex in Kobe's Nishi Ward. The company has been contracted by AstraZeneca's Japanese arm to manufacture the bulk substance of the COVID-19 vaccine, and will establish a new hub to ensure a stable supply. The plant is slated to be completed in October 2022, and is expected to commence production in 2023 or later.

    JCR will acquire approximately 20,000 square meters of land at Kobe Science Park in Nishi Ward from the city for around 2 billion yen (about $18 million). The total construction cost of the plant, consisting of a single-story manufacturing building and a three-story office building, is expected to reach approximately 11.6 billion yen (about $107 million). This will be covered by central government subsidies and the company's own funds.

    JCR, which mainly makes drugs to treat rare diseases, sealed a contract to manufacture the bulk substance for the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020. The company is currently partially utilizing the production line for its own products, but plans to completely shift production to the new plant following its completion.

    AstraZeneca has sealed a contract with the Japanese government to procure 120 million doses of the vaccine, and has revealed that 90 million of those doses will be manufactured domestically.

    JCR president Shin Ashida said in a news conference, "Though this is the first time for us to manufacture a vaccine, I think our technology was recognized. We'd like to do a good job."

    (Japanese original by Kimi Sorihashi, Kobe Bureau)

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