Japan's vaccine minister says inoculation pace to accelerate in May

He added that he expected to be able to get 10 million doses of vaccines each week in May but that the Olympics, which a majority of Japanese have said should be postponed or cancelled, were not a factor in his scheduling. Japan started its vaccination campaign last month, later than most major economies and dependent on imported doses of Pfizer's vaccine.

Reuters | Updated: 29-03-2021 10:37 IST | Created: 29-03-2021 10:37 IST
Japan's vaccine minister says inoculation pace to accelerate in May

Japan's vaccine minister, Taro Kono, said on Monday that the pace of coronavirus inoculation in the country would accelerate in May, but that the Tokyo Olympics, set to start in July, were not factoring into the schedule. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged to have enough doses for the country's 126 million people by June, before the July 23 start of the Tokyo Olympics. Supplies have been trickling in from Pfizer Inc. factories in Europe, but are expected to accelerate in the coming months.

"Starting in May, there will be no bottleneck in supply," Kono told Reuters in an interview. Officially the minister in charge of administrative reform, Kono was tapped in January to lead Japan's COVID-19 vaccination push. He added that he expected to be able to get 10 million doses of vaccines each week in May but that the Olympics, which a majority of Japanese have said should be postponed or cancelled, were not a factor in his scheduling.

Japan started its vaccination campaign last month, later than most major economies and dependent on imported doses of Pfizer's vaccine. Shots developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Moderna Inc now await local regulatory approval. Kono said the AstraZeneca vaccine would be approved "hopefully sometime soon", adding that the decision was up to the health ministry. Having the AstraZeneca vaccine made domestically would save him from having to "worry about the transparency mechanism" that the European Union has used to limit exports of vaccines made there.

"If we have somebody manufacturing vaccines in Japan, it would take off half my headache," Kono said. As of Friday, just over 780,000 people in Japan, mostly healthcare workers, have received at least one vaccine dose.

While Japan has escaped the worst ravages of the pandemic seen elsewhere, cases have begun ticking up again recently, prompting concern among some officials about a potential "fourth wave" of the pandemic. Adding to those concerns, a report quoted by NHK national television warned that the country's vaccination pace might not be able to keep up with the increase in cases. Kono said that while the vaccine prevents symptoms, people shouldn't depend on it alone and need to maintain preventive measures such as wearing masks and hand washing.

Though he frequently tops public opinion polls as a top choice for prime minister, Kono sidestepped questions about when he might take up the job. A general election needs to be held later this year. "Right now, I'm doing my job," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Blockchain in Healthcare: Opportunities and challenges

The use of blockchain in healthcare is a relatively new innovation with many of its uses still being explored and related technologies being developed, improved, and scaled. ...

Debate surrounding vaccine passports and development misses bigger picture

... ...

Blockchain vs IOTA: Looking for a better alternative

... ...

For stability, Iraq needs to crack down on corruption

... ...

Videos

Latest News

France to hold up EU-UK financial services deal over fisheries - source

Paris has said it will delay a European Union financial services deal with Britain until Prime Minister Boris Johnson grants European fishermen fair access to UK waters, a source familiar with the French move said on Wednesday. Weve made a ...

Baramulla district official wields stick to enforce lockdown, apoligises later

A senior official in the Baramulla district administration drew condemnation on Wednesday after a video of him appeared online in which he is purportedly seen hitting people with a stick, including women, shouting at them and shoving them a...

House Republicans meet to oust Cheney from leadership over Trump criticism

U.S. House of Representatives Republicans gathered on Wednesday to vote on whether to eject Liz Cheney, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, from the partys leadership, a move likely to cement their dependence on the former president in the...

Delhi receives 2.67 lakh more doses of Covishield; runs out of Covaxin stock: Atishi

AAP leader Atishi on Wednesday said Delhi received 2.67 lakh more doses of Covishield vaccine on May 11, but it has completely run out of Covaxin.She said some Covaxin centres for the 18-44 age group have been temporarily shut from Wednesda...

Give Feedback