Japan’s vaccine push ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2021 looks to be too late, warn experts

·2-min read
<p>Tokyo reported 471 new Covid cases on Tuesday</p> (Getty Images)

Tokyo reported 471 new Covid cases on Tuesday

(Getty Images)

Japan's vaccine push ahead of the Olympics has come too late, meaning the country could become an incubator for a Tokyo variant, experts have warned.

The country remains in a state of emergency as it struggles to contain a fourth wave of the pandemic, but the delayed Games remain on course to go ahead under strict Covid protocols.

More than three months into its vaccination campaign, only 2.7 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated.

But now the Japanese government is rushing to meet its goal of fully vaccinating all 36 million elderly by the end of July — already a week into the games - which start on July 23.

Even if this is achieved - it would mean that 70 per cent of the population is still yet to be inoculated, reported the Associated Press.

The Government has already vowed to soon start administering 1 million doses daily - it is currently giving only 500,000 per day.

But Tokyo Medical Association Chairman Haruo Ozaki believes that the Olympics could “trigger a global spread of different variants of the virus.”

He also warned that the current pace of vaccinating is “not going to help prevent infections during the Olympics.”

While Naoto Ueyama, a physician and head of the Japan Doctors Union said the games risk becoming an incubator for “a Tokyo variant,” as 15,000 foreign athletes and tens of thousands officials, sponsors and journalists descend on — and potentially mix with — a largely unvaccinated Japanese population.

The medical experts are not alone in their concerns as sixty-three per cent of the public are also opposed to holding the Olympics, according to the Nikkei newspaper.

The newspaper’s poll also found that the approval rate of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government fell by 7 per cent from April to 40 per cent.

But Suga told a parliamentary session on Tuesday that “by using a new weapon called vaccines and taking firm preventive measures, it is fully possible” to hold the Olympics safely.

His speech of optimism came as Tokyo reported 471 new Covid cases on Tuesday, a day after the daily tally in the capital fell below 300 for the first time since April 5.

The figure was lower than the 542 cases seen last Tuesday and the 732 recorded May 18.

The number of Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms, meanwhile, rose by two from Sunday to 1,349, reported the Japan Times.

Read More

Tokyo Olympics will go ahead no matter what, insists games chief

PM suggests Olympics can ‘take place safely’ as Japan extends Covid crackdown