Japan, unexpected stupidity of vaccination

(Tokyo) Junko Shimazaki finally got his second dose last week. This event agency head is over 60 years old. However, he had to wait until the end of June to receive his first dose. Fortunately, she lives in Kawasaki, one of the most efficient municipalities, when it comes to immunization.


“In my whole life, I have never been angry with our government. I don’t understand. However, they have long known that the Olympics should take place.”

These days, between 1.2 and 1.5 million doses are given daily in Japan, or 1% of its population each day. On a per capita basis, Japan has just absorbed the cruising speed that the vaccination campaign in Quebec has reached for more than two months already. So far, a third of Japanese (35%) have received at least one dose (23% two doses).

But as of May 21, two months before the Games, only 4% of Japanese have been vaccinated. Even health workers were not fully aware of this. Don’t ask yourself why games are not popular…

How do we explain that a rich country like Japan, famous for its efficiency and health concerns, is a G7 dumb when it comes to vaccination?

Medical Journal scalpel Take up this puzzle in June. I identified three main factors.

First, it took several months before the vaccine was approved in Japan. Regulations already require clinical trials involving the Japanese themselves, followed by a review of national results. Because Japan has seen relatively few cases, the researchers were unable to enroll enough Japanese to participate in international studies.

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The second reason, related to the first, is that we placed orders for 200 million doses of Pfizer too late.

Third, deployment has been complicated by strict rules about who can give the vaccine.

Added to this is a central government without strong coercive power and marked disparities from one region to another. Progress has also been made in trying to develop a suitable Japanese vaccine. As the country is famous for its efficiency, it suffers from a cumbersome bureaucracy.

“For me, it all comes down to one word: utter incompetence of government,” says Jeff Kingston, a professor of contemporary Japanese history at US Temple University in Tokyo for more than 30 years. He does not believe in the healthy nationalism hypothesis.

“Everyone remembers agreeing to another Pfizer product in the ’90s: Viagra. They didn’t wait for studies on the Japanese, they went the fast track!”

In fact, 1999 newspapers reported approval of Viagra in just six months, a “lightning speed” for the Japanese Ministry of Health, “notorious for its slowness.” There has been talk of bureaucratic bias based on gender, as the abortion pill has been under study for…nine years.

” Government [du premier ministre Yoshihide] Although Suga blames the local authorities, it is his slowness that causes chaos. But bureaucrats here and everywhere are very good at keeping their backs. Japan is still supposed to be good at things like this: organization and logistics. “It’s embarrassing,” said Professor Kingston, who is 64, who will receive his second dose on Monday.

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In defense of the Japanese authorities, many countries have had few cases (compared to Europe and the Americas) in terms of vaccines. Australia, where 11.8% of people have been fully vaccinated, does poorly. South Korea is in much the same situation as Japan.

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However, these countries do not expect 90,000 people from all continents to participate in the Olympic Games. Not to mention the spectators who were due to fill the stadiums until the declaration of a state of emergency again two weeks ago.

The government of Japan had the means and especially an additional obligation to its residents, as long as the Games were scheduled to be postponed by a year, and contracts to purchase vaccines were opened last year.

As of July 21, 26.6% of the world’s population had received at least one dose and 13.2% of the population had been fully immunized. In low-income countries, only 1.1% of people are vaccinated – which has led the World Health Organization to push to vaccinate the planet by next summer, a goal unattainable at the current rate. Canada is now No. 1, with more than 70% of the population having received at least one dose and more than 50%, two.

“Now that the pace is starting to pick up, the Suga government will be bragging about it, but the Japanese are not fooled,” said Jeff Kingston. All of Japan’s public health officials, even Suga’s special advisor Dr. Fauci of Japan, said the games pose an unacceptable spread risk, and the vaccine disaster is a major cause. ”

The number of COVID-19 cases continued to climb in Tokyo on Thursday, reaching January levels, which have been high since the pandemic began.

Anti-vaccines have nothing to do with this problem. We will not need threats, lotteries or a vaccination passport: the Japanese were just waiting for needles, which finally arrived en masse, but arrived too late.

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