Shionogi’s COVID-19 pill could be approved in China this spring as Beijing races to stock up on therapies developed abroad to fight a growing number of severe infections and deaths amid the world’s biggest outbreak.

The Japanese drugmaker has been submitting data to regulators in China and expects Xocova to be authorized for use as early as this quarter, Chief Executive Officer Isao Teshirogi said.

"We are at the final stage of discussions with the authority,” he said in an interview from Shionogi’s headquarters in Osaka. "I’m hopeful it will ask us to submit the application officially in a month or two, with the approval to follow soon after.”