Japan’s vaccination rollout faces logistical hurdles that could further delay the slow-moving campaign, experts and officials say, complicating plans to deliver wide-scale coronavirus inoculations in time for the Olympics.
Already the last major industrial country to start mass vaccinations, Japan is likely to be hampered by a lack of containers and dry ice and difficulties in recruiting medical staff, more than a dozen people involved in the inoculation drive told Reuters.
Local governments in Japan are rushing to prepare, but according to a Kyodo survey, over 80% of prefectural capitals — or 38 of the 47 — have concerns about whether they have enough doctors and nurses to vaccinate residents.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday he expects to decide whether to extend the state of emergency covering Tokyo and other parts of Japan several days before it is set to end on Feb. 7. Suga said the timing had to strike the right balance — too early and health experts would not be able to examine the latest data; too late and people would be caught off guard.
Suga had to apologize Wednesday in the Diet after executives of the ruling coalition were reported to have visited hostess bars in Tokyo’s Ginza district, just as the government is urging people to avoid unnecessary outings. “As we have asked the people to refrain from going out, I am extremely sorry,” he said.
Wednesday’s (and Tuesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Tokyo 973 (1,024), Kanagawa 386 (394), Osaka 357 (343), Chiba 258 (340), Saitama 247 (253), Aichi 227 (215), Fukuoka 185 (155), Hyogo 211 (153), Kyoto 128 (113), Hokkaido 147 (106), Okinawa 131 (84), Ibaraki 84 (49), Shizuoka 60 (45), Gunma 52 (13). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker