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Shionogi & Co. is now unlikely to start shipping the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing by the end of this year, according to informed sources.

The Japanese drugmaker is finding it difficult to conduct the final phase of the vaccine’s clinical trial, involving tens of thousands of participants worldwide, this year while COVID-19 vaccinations are being conducted around the world, the sources said Tuesday.

In December last year, Shionogi launched a clinical trial in Japan to check the efficacy and safety of its vaccine. The company is making preparations for large-scale, final-phase testing but is facing difficulty securing participants as more and more people are receiving vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc. of the United States and AstraZeneca PLC of Britain.

Shionogi will continue its preparations for the large-scale trial with the aim of becoming capable of producing the coronavirus vaccine for over 30 million people a year by the end of 2021, according to the sources.

The company has been calling on the Japanese government to create an emergency use authorization system for vaccines, like the one in the United States, so that it can respond swiftly to the possible spread of coronavirus variants.

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