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At least 30 out of Japan’s 47 prefectures plan to start COVID-19 vaccinations for older people in big cities such as prefectural capitals, as the first batch of vaccine supply is expected to be limited when the rollout begins next month, according to a Kyodo survey.

Things should then pick up in May and June if shipments arrive as expected, with Japan set to receive about 100 million more doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which should be enough to cover half the population.

Among the 181,184 people in Japan who have received a Pfizer shot, 37 claims of anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction, had been reported as of Thursday. The health ministry puts the number of anaphylaxis cases per million inoculations at 204, compared to five in the U.S. and 18 in Britain, although a ministry panel says it is difficult to make a simple comparison.

A health care worker uses a syringe to dilute the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Kanto Rosai Hospital in Kawasaki on March 4. | BLOOMBERG
A health care worker uses a syringe to dilute the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Kanto Rosai Hospital in Kawasaki on March 4. | BLOOMBERG

Meanwhile, drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo said Friday it has started making the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Japan, as reports emerged in some countries of blood clots in those receiving the vaccine. AstraZeneca, which filed for health ministry approval of its vaccine in early February, is set to provide Japan with enough doses for about 60 million people.

One jab Japanese people probably won’t be getting in the near future is the Chinese vaccine, which Beijing is offering to participants in the Tokyo Olympics. Japanese athletes will not be eligible for the vaccinations since Japan has not approved the shots, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said Friday.

Sunday’s (and last Sunday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (20 or over): Tokyo 239 (237), Kanagawa 109 (119), Chiba 106 (113), Osaka 92 (76), Saitama 77 (123), Miyagi 49 (32), Hokkaido 45 (84), Fukuoka 38 (35), Hyogo 38 (41), Aichi 24 (27), Tochigi 24 (9), Okinawa 23 (18). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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