Push Notifications RuntimeException NullPointerException in Push Notifications Targeting SDK 33

I am puzzled by this error from Google Play Store pre-launch report and would appreciate anyone who can help or point me to the right direction :pray: :

Exception java.lang.RuntimeException: java.lang.reflect.InvocationTargetException
at android.os.Handler.handleCallback (Handler.java:942)
at android.os.Handler.dispatchMessage (Handler.java:99)
at android.os.Looper.loopOnce (Looper.java:201)
at android.os.Looper.loop (Looper.java:288)
at android.os.HandlerThread.run (HandlerThread.java:67)
Caused by java.lang.reflect.InvocationTargetException:
at java.lang.reflect.Method.invoke
at com.getcapacitor.PluginHandle.invoke (PluginHandle.java)
Caused by java.lang.NullPointerException:
at com.getcapacitor.Plugin.getPermissionStates (Plugin.java)
at com.getcapacitor.Plugin.checkPermissions (Plugin.java)
at com.capacitorjs.plugins.pushnotifications.PushNotificationsPlugin.checkPermissions (PushNotificationsPlugin.java)

package.json (partial)
@angular-devkit/architect”: “^0.1200.5”,
@angular/common”: “~12.1.1”,
@angular/core”: “~12.1.1”,
@angular/forms”: “~12.1.1”,
@angular/google-maps”: “^12.2.13”,
@angular/platform-browser”: “~12.1.1”,
@angular/platform-browser-dynamic”: “~12.1.1”,
@angular/router”: “~12.1.1”,
@awesome-cordova-plugins/android-permissions”: “^6.2.0”,
@awesome-cordova-plugins/core”: “6.2.0”,
@awesome-cordova-plugins/in-app-browser”: “^6.3.0”,
@awesome-cordova-plugins/status-bar”: “^6.2.0”,
@capacitor-community/fcm”: “^5.0.1”,
@capacitor-community/firebase-analytics”: “^1.0.1”,
@capacitor/android”: “^5.2.3”,
@capacitor/app”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/browser”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/camera”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/core”: “^5.3.1”,
@capacitor/device”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/filesystem”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/geolocation”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/haptics”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/ios”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/keyboard”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/network”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/preferences”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/push-notifications”: “^5.1.0”,
@capacitor/share”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/splash-screen”: “^5.0.0”,
@capacitor/status-bar”: “^5.0.0”,
@ionic-enterprise/auth”: “^5.0.8”,
@ionic-enterprise/identity-vault”: “^5.12.0”,
@ionic-enterprise/secure-storage”: “^3.0.2”,
@ionic-native/core”: “^5.36.0”,
@ionic-native/file-opener”: “^5.36.0”,
@ionic-native/social-sharing”: “^5.36.0”,
@ionic-native/splash-screen”: “^5.36.0”,
@ionic-native/status-bar”: “^5.36.0”,
@ionic/angular”: “^6.2.6”,
@ionic/storage”: “^3.0.6”,
@ionic/storage-angular”: “^3.0.6”,

AndroidManifest.xml includes this permission

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.POST_NOTIFICATIONS"/>

The codebase includes a requestPermissions() during initialization of the app:

  private async registerPush() {
    PushNotifications.requestPermissions().then( async ( requestPermissions ) => {
      if ( requestPermissions.receive === 'granted' ) {
        this.granted = true;
        await PushNotifications.register();
      } else {
        this.granted = false;
      }
    } );

    // Several PushNotifications.addListener follows
}