Japanese pharmaceutical firm Shionogi & Co. said Wednesday its oral COVID-19 drug currently under development has been confirmed in preclinical testing as effective against the Omicron subvariant BA.2.75 that has been detected in Japan.

The announcement came after a health ministry panel in July postponed the granting of emergency approval for the drug. Discussions are slated to resume after the results of the final stage of clinical trials currently under way.

The BA.2.75 subvariant has been reported in various locations across Japan, including in Tokyo, and Aichi and Osaka prefectures amid signs of community transmission.

Photo taken in Osaka, western Japan on Feb. 25, 2022 shows the logo of Japanese pharmaceutical firm Shionogi & Co.(Kyodo)

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The pharmaceutical company previously confirmed the efficacy of its oral drug against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants in preclinical testing.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. pharmaceutical giant Moderna Inc. announced it has applied for health ministry approval for the production and sale of its bivalent COVID-19 vaccine effective against the Omicron variant.

The bivalent vaccine, named after its combination of ingredients deriving from existing COVID-19 shots and from the Omicron variant's BA.1 subtype, has been reported as providing an increase in neutralizing antibodies against the BA.5 subvariant currently prevalent across the country.

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. has also applied to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for approval of its bivalent vaccine, with a ministry panel set to start deliberations soon.