Japanese pharmaceutical firm Shionogi says it has begun a new phase in a clinical trial for an orally administered coronavirus treatment.
The Osaka-based company started first-phase tests in July this year. The firm says it found no safety problems at that stage.
In the next round of tests that started on Monday, the company is checking the drug's efficacy and safety by administering it once a day for five days to COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms.
The tests will target hospitalized patients and those who are recovering at accommodation facilities.
Shionogi has not disclosed the scale and duration of the trial, but it aims to be ready by the end of this year to produce the drug for one million people.
Japan's health ministry on Monday approved sotrovimab, made by the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, for non-severe coronavirus cases, following an earlier approval of an antibody cocktail treatment. Neither are administered orally.