The Japanese government has earmarked $2 billion in funding for vaccine research in an effort to make sure its country is better prepared for any future pandemics, according to Nature. Japan lagged behind other countries not only in the development of vaccines, but also in their approval when it comes to COVID-19. As the publication points out, three of Japan’s most advanced COVID-19 vaccine candidates are still in clinical trials. To avoid a repetition, the country established the Strategic Center for Vaccine Preparedness and Response Advanced Biomedical Research and Development (SCARDA) in March.

SCARDA’s central research center will be based in Tokyo, but will be supported by four main institutes, namely Osaka University, Nagasaki University, Hokkaido University and Chiba University. The $2 billion funding is supposed to keep it going for five years. $1.2 billion will go toward the center’s vaccine research and development projects, while $400 million will be spent supporting startups in drug development. The other $400 million will go toward setting up a network of research centers across the country, as well as for vaccine testing.

SCARDA will initially focus on developing vaccines for eight infectious diseases, including COVID-19, monkeypox, SARS, dengue and Zika virus. Its researchers will also look at various types of vaccine technologies, such as mRNA and viral vectors. The center aims to “find seeds for future vaccines,” but its ultimate goal is to be able to conjure up diagnostic tests, vaccines, and treatments. within 100 days of identifying a pathogen that has the potential to become a pandemic.

It was the UK government that was the first to propose the 100-day response target, based on what it learned from COVID-19. “The first 100 days when faced with a pandemic or epidemic threat are crucial to changing its course and, ideally, preventing it from becoming a pandemic,” the UK wrote in its pandemic preparedness report to the G7. According to the World Health Organization, it is Recorded more than 2.5 million cases and 200,000 deaths 100 days after declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern. A quick response early on could have prevented those numbers from rising.

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