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Japan, U.S. collaborate to develop COVID-19 vaccines, drugs

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke over the phone as they both try to reopen businesses in their respective countries.

TOKYO, Japan — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed to cooperate closely in developing COVID-19 vaccines and drugs, and in their efforts to boost their economies.

The two leaders held telephone talks as they seek to reopen businesses in their respective countries.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters the leaders exchanged views on the COVID-19 situation, measures to prevent further spread of the virus, development of drugs and vaccines, and steps for reopening the economies in their countries. He said Abe proposed the talks.

“It was extremely meaningful to be able to reassure Japan-U.S. cooperation via telephone talks between the two leaders just as the international society is expected to unite and tackle the (pandemic),” Suga said.

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The Japanese health ministry, in a rare fast-track process, approved Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral drug remdesivir on Thursday to treat COVID-19 patients. The approval was granted under a special fast-track process only four days after the company filed an application.

Japan is still under a coronavirus state of emergency, which was extended this week until the end of May, though there have been no hard lockdowns.

The United States has more than 1.2 million reported infections, with deaths exceeding 75,000, while Japan has about 15,500 cases and 580 deaths.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

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