Japan increases mass vaccinations in Tokyo and Osaka amid a surge in Covid

Patients receiving vaccination

All older people are to be vaccinated by the end of July

As the Covid crisis worsens, Japan has launched mass vaccination programs in Tokyo and Osaka.

The military has set up a center that provides thousands of shots daily, giving priority to the elderly. About 1.9% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Japan’s efficient medical system is increasingly overwhelmed by the recent surge, and some hospitals lack beds and ventilators.

That has led to increased public pressure to cancel the Tokyo Olympics in July.

Most of Japan is currently in a state of emergency to give local authorities more authority to implement anti-pandemic measures.

More than 700,000 infections and 12,000 Covid-19 viral deaths have been recorded in the country.

The mass vaccination drive is run by the Japanese Defense Forces and will be expanded over the next three months.

Authorities plan to vaccinate up to 5,000 people in Tokyo and 2,500 in Osaka daily with the recently approved Moderna jab, which will double in June and July.

Mass vaccination facilities are also planned in other major cities such as Kobe and Nagoya.

Authorities hope that people over the age of 65 will complete the vaccination by the end of July.

Nurse waiting for patient to arrive for vaccination

Thousands of people in Tokyo and Osaka receive jabs daily at vaccination centers

The country was slower than most other developed countries and began vaccination of its people only in February.

Early vaccination drives carried out by municipalities across the country prioritized healthcare and other frontline workers.

However, progress has slowed due to logistical hurdles such as supply shortages and the full help of local doctors.

So far, only about 4.7% of older people in countries over the age of 65 take at least one dose of either Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca.

Hope after a few weeks of anxiety

Yuko Kato, Digital Editor, BBC News Japan

Hospitals in many parts of the country are overwhelmed by the high number of cases and the lack of beds and medical staff.

Many of the hospitals here are private companies and cannot be financially maintained if the wards and beds are always available in case of serious illness. Large, well-equipped hospitals also need to deal with other serious emergencies, which further impacts their ability to cope.

During that time, there was considerable anxiety about the very slow deployment of the vaccine and confusion about how to secure slots for the elderly.

Reservation difficulty (or ease in some places) varies greatly depending on where you live, and the initial errors found in the online booking system of the new mass vaccination center run by the central government did not alleviate the confusion. ..

But now that the mass vaccination center is in operation, it is hoped that the very visceral fear of the well-being of our loved ones will sooner or later begin to subside.

How is the situation in Osaka and Tokyo?

Japan has long succeeded in avoiding the large-scale outbreaks seen in other countries, but the number of cases has steadily increased in recent weeks.

Tokyo is still Japan’s largest Covid hotspot, with an average of 650 cases per day in the capital.

However, even in the second largest city, Osaka, there are reports of a shortage of hospital beds and ventilators, and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.

In late April, the city surged in more than 1,000 new cases a day. Today, on average, it’s about half that number every day.

Hospital doctors and nurses

Doctors warn that hospitals in Osaka are reaching the “limit”

An exhausted doctor told Reuters that he had seen an “explosive increase in the number of patients.”

“Simply put, this is a collapse of the medical system,” Yuji Toda, director of Kinki University Hospital in Osaka, told the news agency.

How about the Tokyo Olympics?

Despite the increasing crisis, tEven after the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed since last year, we are still planning to move on.

John Coates, vice chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last Friday, said the tournament would “absolutely” proceed, even under Covid’s restrictions.

However, polls show that the majority of Japanese want to cancel or postpone the Olympics again.

Protesters are holding placards during a demonstration against the Tokyo Olympics in front of the New National Stadium, the main stadium of the Tokyo Olympics.

In Japan, there are increasing calls for the cancellation of the tournament.

Over the weekend, one of Japan’s most prominent businessmen criticized the decision to continue the tournament.

Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son tweeted, “More than 80% of people want to postpone or cancel the Olympics. Who is forced to do so with what authority?”

Healthcare workers are also repeatedly issuing warnings.

A nurse living in central Nagoya, unnamed, told the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield Hayes that he had seen the hospital’s Covid unit fill up in the last few weeks.

“We don’t already have enough beds and staff for Covid patients. People are already dying at home because they can’t enter the hospital.

“They want 500 nurses to volunteer at the Olympics, which means more Covid patients will not get the care they need.”

Akira Takasu, director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Osaka Medical and Pharmaceutical University Hospital, told Reuters that “the influx of new variants from the UK has not been stopped, so the Olympics should be stopped, and the next variant of India. May be an influx of.

“This may trigger another summer disaster.”

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