Delayed booster dose caused an outbreak of Omicron in Japan

Delayed booster dose caused an outbreak of Omicron in Japan - Photo 1.

A restaurant in Tokyo, Japan – Photo: REUTERS

On February 15, Japan recorded 236 deaths from COVID-19, the highest number of deaths in a day.

While new infections are on a downward trend, the number of deaths in Japan is still increasing. Nearly 2,000 people died from COVID-19 in Japan in February.

Although the introduction of vaccination was relatively slow at first, Japan promoted vaccination rapidly and by November 2021, Japan had the highest vaccination rate among the G7 countries.

However, the Japanese Ministry of Health then kept the regulation on the 8-month waiting period between the first injection and the booster dose, even as other countries cut the waiting time and many local authorities (including Tokyo) have voiced their urge to deploy injections more quickly.

Minimum waiting time is reduced to 6 months, still longer than 3 months of Korea and 5 months of Singapore. Currently, only 10% of the Japanese population has received a booster dose, compared with more than 50% in South Korea and Singapore.

Hidekiyo Tachiya, mayor of Soma city in northern Japan, met Prime Minister Kishida in October 2021 to call for a booster dose soon. But until December of that year, there was still no mass injection, only injections for doctors and medical staff.

“If the injection was faster, many people would not have died,” Tachiya told Reuters news agency.

Authorities in Tokyo also pushed for an early booster dose, but to no avail.

“We asked for a booster dose as soon as possible, but the government refused,” said Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said that the eight-month waiting period between injections was decided by the health science panel and was revised in December 2021 and January 2022 in response to the threat of Omicron.

The booster injection program in Japan has been accelerating recently. This week, the Ministry of Health said it would buy and import an additional 10 million doses of Pfizer in March.

Hong Kong was overloaded before the epidemic caused by Omicron Hong Kong was overloaded before the epidemic caused by Omicron

TTO – Hong Kong authorities say the unprecedented number of cases of the Omicron variant is overloading the medical facilities of the special zone. Researchers warn that new daily cases in Hong Kong could surpass 28,000 in the next month.

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