US drug maker Pfizer on Friday requested Japanese government approval of its vaccine to treat the deadly coronavirus, local media reported.

The company filed an application for fast-track approval of the vaccine in the country, which has reported nearly 187,103 cases, including 2,739 deaths, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is the first drug manufacturer to apply for vaccine approval in Japan, Kyodo News reported.

“We will strictly screen the effectiveness and safety [of the vaccine] before making a judgment,” Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura told a news conference.

In an agreement signed earlier, Japan is expected to receive a supply of 120 million doses in the first half of next year, and public vaccination is planned from early March.

Akihisa Harada, who leads Pfizer in Japan, said: “In the event that we win approval, we would like to ensure a fast delivery of our vaccine to people in Japan and play a part in normalizing their social life.”

Pfizer wants the vaccine approval in Japan “without any procedure to conduct large-scale trials on the basis that the vaccine has been approved in other countries.”

The company has held clinical trials on at least 160 people in the country and results are expected to come by February.

If approved, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be delivered in batches of 1,000 doses. However, the vaccine requires preservation at minus 75 C (-167 F) or lower and administration within approximately 10 days.

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