Japan yesterday began COVID-19 vaccinations for its sizeable elderly population, with imported doses still in short supply and the pace unlikely to stop a fourth wave of infections.
Shots for people aged 65 and above began at about 120 sites across the nation, using Pfizer Inc’s vaccine made in Europe and delivered to the regions in the past week.
Just 2,810 people in Tokyo are expected to get a shot from the first batch, while most regions are to receive 1,000 doses or fewer, a Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare schedule showed.
Photo: Reuters / Kyodo
Japan has a rapidly aging population totaling 126 million.
Touring a vaccination center in Hachioji, west of Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that he expected to secure about 100 million vaccine doses by the end of June, more than enough to give two doses to the elderly population of 36 million.
“We would like to deliver [the vaccine] to as many people as possible, as soon as possible,” Suga said.
Tokyo yesterday implemented a month-long period of quasi-emergency disease prevention measures to blunt a fourth wave driven by virulent mutant strains, and with the planned start of the Summer Olympic Games just over 100 days away.
Shots for most of the population are not likely to be available until late summer or even winter, too late to stem a resurgence of cases that appears to be focused on people in their 30s and 40s, said Haruka Sakamoto, a physician and researcher at Keio University in Tokyo.
“The currently available vaccination cannot prevent the fourth wave of the pandemic,” Sakamoto said. “I think the younger generation is now going to be more greatly affected compared with the previous waves.”
Japan was among the last major economies to begin COVID-19 inoculations when it started in mid-February, after domestic trials to ensure safety. Japan is dependent on Pfizer’s vaccine as the only COVID-19 shot approved by domestic regulators.
About 1.1 million people in Japan, mostly frontline healthcare workers, have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine’s two-shot regimen so far.
Japanese Minister for Administrative Reform and Regulatory Reform Taro Kono, who is in charge of vaccinations, has defended the pace, saying local governments wanted time to prepare.
“After tomorrow, we will inform the prefectures how much we can distribute and they will decide how much to allocate to each municipality,” Kono told national broadcaster NHK on Sunday.
RE-EDUCATION: The ambassador to Australia told reporters that he understood there ‘might be a process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China’ China’s ambassador to Australia yesterday said that Beijing is prepared to use “all necessary means” to prevent Taiwan from being independent, saying there can be “no compromise” on its “one China” principle. Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian (肖千) repeatedly told the National Press Club in Canberra that the US was to blame for the recent escalation in tensions, adding that China’s decision to launch ballistic missiles in live-fire exercises in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was “legitimate and justified.” Xiao said that after a “good start” with the new government of Australian Prime Minister
Newly married and with his first child on the way, auto worker Wang (王) wanted to move into the apartment he bought in Wuhan three years ago, but those hopes were dashed by China’s ballooning property crisis. Saddled with nearly US$300,000 in debt and with his unit nowhere near completion, the 34-year-old decided he had enough and stopped making mortgage payments. He is among numerous home buyers across dozens of cities in China who have boycotted payments over fears that their properties will not be completed by cash-strapped, debt-laden developers. “They said construction would resume soon,” Wang said, only giving his surname. “But
PROPAGANDA LEAFLETS: Seoul voiced ‘strong regret’ as Kim’s sister threatened to eradicate South Korean authorities for sending the virus across the border North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suffered from a “high fever” during a recent COVID-19 outbreak, his sister Kim Yo-jong said yesterday, as she vowed to “eradicate” South Korean authorities if they continued to tolerate propaganda leaflets the regime blames for spreading the virus. Kim Yo-jong blamed “South Korean puppets” for sending “dirty objects” across the border in leaflets carried by balloons, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. The revelation of her brother’s illness marked an unusual admission for a regime that rarely comments on the leader’s health — and then only to show that he shares the struggles of
A landmark sexual harassment case in China yesterday returned to court after an earlier ruling dealt a blow to the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement. Zhou Xiaoxuan (周曉璇) stepped forward in 2018 to accuse state TV host Zhu Jun (朱軍) of forcibly kissing and groping her during her 2014 internship at the broadcaster. While the case of Zhou, now 29, inspired many others to share their experiences of sexual assault publicly and sparked a social media storm, a court ruled last year there was insufficient evidence to back her allegation. Zhou appealed, and returned to court for another hearing yesterday in Beijing. “I still feel