Pfizer wants vaccine used on younger kids in Japan

US pharmaceutical company Pfizer has asked Japanese authorities for permission to expand the use of its COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of five and eleven.

The company said it submitted an application to the Japanese health ministry on Wednesday.

The vaccine was developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. It is one of the vaccines being used in Japan's coronavirus inoculation program.

The Japanese ministry approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people aged 16 or older in February. The use of the vaccine was expanded to those aged 12 or older in May.

Pfizer is the first company to ask Japanese authorities for permission to allow children younger than 12 years old to be inoculated with its vaccine.

The ministry says it will assess the vaccine's safety and effectiveness in the age group before determining whether to grant approval. As part of that assessment, the ministry says it will study data submitted by Pfizer. The data is based on clinical tests conducted abroad.

In Japan, the use of the vaccine developed by US drug maker Moderna is limited to people aged 12 or older. The use of the vaccine developed by Britain's drug firm AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford is limited to those aged 18 or older.

Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the expansion of the emergency use of Pfizer's vaccine from people aged 12 or older to those aged 5 or older.