Japan residents to get free COVID-19 vaccine
Pedestrians cross a street in Tokyo's Shinjuku area on November 29, 2020, as the city reported 418 new infections of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
AFP/Charly TRIBALLEAU

Japan residents to get free COVID-19 vaccine

(Agence France-Presse) - December 2, 2020 - 3:22pm

TOKYO, Japan — Japan will give free coronavirus vaccines to all of its residents under a bill passed Wednesday, as the nation battles record numbers of daily cases.

The bill, which says the government will cover all vaccine costs for Japan's 126 million residents, was approved by the upper house of parliament, having cleared the powerful lower house.

The country has secured COVID-19 vaccines for 60 million people from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and for a further 25 million people from biotech firm Moderna.

It has also confirmed it will receive 120 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine.

Pfizer and Moderna are already seeking emergency-use approval in the United States and Europe, after clinical tests showed their jabs were effective.

The bill's passage comes two weeks after Japan's prime minister said the country was on "maximum alert" over the virus, and as medics warn hospitals are on the brink of collapse.

Japan has seen a comparatively small COVID-19 outbreak overall, with around 2,100 deaths and 150,000 cases, and has not imposed the strict lockdowns seen elsewhere.

But it is now facing a third wave of the disease, reporting record numbers of daily infections nationwide in recent weeks.

Tokyo's governor has urged residents to avoid non-essential outings and asked businesses serving alcohol to shut early, although there is no enforcement mechanism for these recommendations.

The national government has also decided to allow individual regions to opt out of a controversial domestic tourism campaign.

COVID-19 VACCINE JAPAN NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 20, 2021 - 7:12pm

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK said on July 29, 2020, that they have agreed to supply Britain with up to 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement covers a vaccine candidate developed by France's Sanofi in partnership with the UK's GSK and is subject to a "final contract."

This thread collects some of the major developments in the search for a vaccine to ease the new coronavirus pandemic. (Main photo by AFP/Joel Saget)

January 20, 2021 - 7:12pm

Japan aims to start vaccinating the general public against the coronavirus in May -- just two months before the postponed Olympics -- following targeted jabs for the most vulnerable, reports said Wednesday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said the government is hoping the majority of adults will be vaccinated by July, when the Games are due to open.

The country has agreed with pharmaceutical firms to receive enough doses for all 126 million residents and is working to approve the Pfizer jab as the first to be used in Japan from next month. —  AFP

January 20, 2021 - 8:31am

Mexican authorities are investigating the theft of several coronavirus vaccines from a public hospital, the army said Tuesday, underscoring the challenges of distributing the shots across the crime-plagued country.

Mexico, which has one of the world's highest COVID-19 death tolls, has deployed the military to guard the vaccines and prevent them falling into criminals' hands.

The army said that the stolen vaccines were under the control of a public health institution in a hospital in central Morelos state whose security is overseen by a private company.

"This theft could have been a dishonest act of self-interest by a member of the hospital's vaccination team," it said in a statement. — AFP

January 16, 2021 - 7:37pm

Serbia becomes one of the first European countries to receive a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday when one million doses of a jab produced by Sinopharm arrived at Belgrade airport.

President Aleksandar Vucic posted a picture of himself on Instagram, standing next to the plane carrying the vaccine.

"We are proud of our friendship with China," he was quoted as saying by Beta news agency, telling reporters that he hoped to be inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine in six or seven days. — AFP

January 14, 2021 - 7:41pm

Both Pope Francis and his predecessor, former pope Benedict XVI, have received the coronavirus vaccine, the Vatican says on Thursday.

"I can confirm that as part of the Vatican City State vaccination programme to date, the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus," spokesman Matteo Bruni says. — AFP

January 13, 2021 - 1:25pm

President Joko Widodo receives the first COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia.  The shot, from China's Sinovac, kicks off the massive immunization campaign in the country dealing with one of most number of cases in the region.

Indonesia opted to secure millions of doses from the Chinese pharmaceutical company whose lack of transparency about its vaccine sparks concerns. While the Philippines ordered 25 million doses, Indonesia secured 125.5 million from Sinovac.

Indonesia is also expecting 50 million doses from Astrazeneca, 150 million from American biotech firm Novovax, 60 million from Sinopharm and 20 million from CanSino, making it the third territory in the world with the most number of confirmed doses after Europe and the United States. (Handout photo)

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