Inoculations of older people against the coronavirus will start in April as planned but at a slower pace, vaccine czar Taro Kono said Sunday as the country received its second shipment of Pfizer’s vaccine.
Citing a delay until May of a production capacity increase by Pfizer, Kono said supplies “will be very limited until April,” adding that the government will start vaccinations of older people “little by little and expand it slowly.”
Japan launched its vaccination effort Wednesday, initially covering 40,000 medical workers at 100 hospitals across the country. The government said Saturday that other than one report of a vaccine recipient breaking out in hives, no serious side effects have been reported.
Outlining new challenges as it tries to overcome a third wave of the pandemic, Japan on Friday confirmed the spread of a new COVID-19 variant as well as an infection cluster at an immigration facility in Tokyo.
The new variant has been identified in 91 cases in the Kanto area and in 2 cases at airports. Among changes seen in the new strain is the so-called E484K mutation, which has also been identified in some other strains and may undermine the effectiveness of vaccines.
Sunday’s (and last Sunday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (20 or over): Tokyo 272 (371), Chiba 163 (108), Kanagawa 100 (108), Saitama 84 (131), Hokkaido 63 (52), Osaka 60 (98), Ibaraki 46 (38), Aichi 33 (77), Fukuoka 32 (69), Hyogo 27 (44). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker