In the race to vaccinate citizens against COVID-19, Japan should be a front-runner. It has nearly universal health care coverage and pharmaceutical prowess, not to mention a pending national election, a large aged population and the looming Olympics to motivate political leaders to move fast.
Yet it has the dubious distinction of being among the worst performers when it comes to inoculations. Japan has given enough doses to cover just 1.1% of its population, the lowest among the 37 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. That compares to 36% in the United States and nearly 35% in the United Kingdom.
Within Asia, it trails China, India, Singapore and South Korea and is only slightly ahead of lower-income nations like the Philippines and Thailand.