The Japanese government has selected 17 projects led by companies and universities to support manufacturing of vaccines when a pandemic breaks out, the industry minister announced Monday.

The government will offer subsidies of a total to 226.5 billion yen ($1.6 billion) to entities including pharmaceutical firm Daiichi Sankyo Co. and Hiroshima University to introduce or renovate facilities needed for vaccine production, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

File photo shows the production of AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 vaccine in Japan by drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo Co. at its subsidiary's plant in Kitamoto, Saitama Prefecture, in March 2021. (Photo courtesy of Daiichi Sankyo)(Kyodo)

The entities, selected Friday, will produce biopharmaceuticals during normal times and switch to manufacture vaccines and materials needed for their production during an outbreak of an infectious disease.

"We will build the foundation and footholds to secure vaccine supply domestically," industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters.

The move came after the coronavirus pandemic highlighted issues affecting vaccine development and production in the country, as it depended on overseas to procure materials and other resources.

The government earmarked 227.4 billion yen in a supplementary budget for fiscal 2021 for the subsidy program and solicited applications from March to May this year.

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