The health ministry is planning to move ahead with formal approval of the coronavirus vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. on Sunday, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry had intended to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. With the acceleration of its administrative procedures, the government is considering starting vaccinations on Wednesday for around 20,000 doctors and nurses who have consented to receive the shots, the sources said.

The first batch of some 400,000 doses arrived at Narita Airport to the east of Tokyo at around 10:20 a.m. Friday on an All Nippon Airways Co. flight from Brussels.