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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Japan’s inoculation pace to speed up in May

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TOKYO: 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 said 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 in polls 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.


— Reuters


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