AstraZeneca Plc will file for Japanese approval of its COVID-19 vaccine as early as mid-February, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, making it the second vaccine maker to seek approval in Japan.
Although the British-Swedish company started domestic vaccine trials last summer, it fell behind its rival Pfizer Inc in the schedule to inoculate the Japanese public after Pfizer sought government approval in December.
"All we can say for now is that we will seek government approval in the not-too-distant future," said a spokesperson for AstraZeneca in response to Reuters' request for comment.
"We have not confirmed that that will happen in February," the spokesperson said.
Japan has secured 120 million AstraZeneca doses, and plans to procure at least 90 million of them from domestic drugmakers who will make and distribute the shots, the government said on Thursday.
Japan is seeking to kickstart its vaccination program with the Pfizer vaccine in late February starting with frontline healthcare workers.
But the vaccine roll-out trails behind other major economies, mainly because it depends on overseas makers to provide vaccines that then must be approved domestically.