British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc said Friday it has started clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Japan, as it plans to begin supplying the vaccine in the country in the first quarter of next year.

The testing of the vaccine AZD1222, which is being developed with the University of Oxford, will be carried out at multiple facilities targeting about 250 people aged 18 and older, according to AstraZeneca.

A packet of prescription drugs made by the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca on May 7, 2014 in Cambridge, England. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)(Getty/Kyodo) 

The drugmaker agreed in August with the Japanese government to supply 120 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and it plans to supply 30 million of those between January and March next year.

AstraZeneca has been conducting similar clinical trials in Britain, Brazil, South Africa and the United States.

Japan also agreed to receive a vaccine by the end of June next year from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE.

Japan has confirmed over 70,000 cases of the new coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease, and more than 1,300 deaths.