Japan begins Covid-19 vaccination drive amid Olympic worries

Japan begins COVID-19 vaccination drive amid Olympic worries
Source: AP
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: Months after other major world economies, Japan began giving the first Covid-19 vaccines to front-line health workers Wednesday. Many are wondering if the vaccination will reach enough people, and in time, to save a Summer Olympics already delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite recent rising coronavirus infections, Japan has largely dodged the kind of cataclysm that has battered other wealthy countries’ economies, healthcare systems and social networks. But the fate of the Olympics and the billions of dollars at stake should the Games fail, makes Japan’s Covid vaccine campaign crucial. Officials in Japan are also well aware that China, which has had success eradicating the virus, will host next year’s Winter Olympics, something that heightens the desire to make the Tokyo Games happen.

A big problem as the vaccines roll out — first to medical workers, then the elderly and then, possibly in late spring or early summer, to the rest of the population — are worries about shortages of the imported coronavirus vaccines Japan relies on, and a long-time reluctance among many Japanese to take vaccines because of fears of relatively-rare side effects that have been played up by the media in the past.

The late rollout will make it impossible to reach so-called “herd immunity” against coronavirus before the Olympics begin in July, experts say.

The vaccine campaign has the support of the government, but there’s widespread wariness, even opposition, among citizens to having the Olympics at all. About 80% of those polled in recent media surveys support cancellation or further postponement of the Games because of the virus worries.

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