Japan’s coronavirus task force has drafted vaccination guidelines that say the government should prioritize medical workers, older people and those with underlying illnesses.
The guidelines, released Friday, came as Tokyo confirmed 258 more coronavirus infections for an average daily tally of 256.6 over the past seven days. About 53 percent of the patients were in their 20s or 30s, and the number who were severely ill fell by three to 33.
In Osaka Prefecture, Friday’s tally was 166, staying above 100 for the fourth day in a row.
Nagano reported nine cases, a record high.
The national tally for infections Friday was 1,033, bringing Japan’s cumulative total to 61,699, including the roughly 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship debacle in Yokohama in February. The death toll rose to 1,188.
“In order to keep deaths and severe cases to a minimum, and to protect the lives and health of our citizens, we need to establish a system for vaccination,” task force chief Shigeru Omi told reporters after its meeting.
The task force is also discussing whether pregnant women, emergency responders and staff at public health centers should be included in the priority group for vaccination.
The World Health Organization says there are 169 candidate vaccines and that 30 have commenced clinical trials.
Even if a vaccine arrives, Omi pointed out the risk of serious side effects.
“People are pinning their hopes (on a vaccine) so it’s important to present accurate information,” he said.
The task force also noted that the current surge in infections, which began in June, peaked in late July. But it also warned that it could easily strengthen again, citing areas still reporting high numbers of infections and the jump in domestic travel during the Bon holidays this month.
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