TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio said Monday that the government will accelerate the third round of COVID-19 vaccinations to realize the administration of one million booster shots per day as early as possible.
“We will step up our efforts to raise the number of third novel coronavirus vaccine shots per day to one million at the earliest possible time in February,” he said at a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament.
The government will urge municipalities and companies to move up their inoculation programs as much as possible and actively offer vaccinations at the workplace, Kishida added.
The prime minister, who had stopped short of showing a numerical target for booster shots, changed his stance in a bid to make up for the delay in the administration of third shots, pundits said.
Earlier in the day, Kishida held talks with relevant cabinet ministers, including health minister Shigeyuki Goto, and instructed them to promote the vaccination of essential workers, such as school and nursery teachers, and police officers, as well as to increase the daily number of booster shots to one million.
At the Diet meeting, Kishida also said that the government aims to increase daily COVID-19 shots at a mass vaccination venue in the city of Osaka, western Japan, that is run by the Self-Defense Forces to some 2,500 by Feb. 14 from 960 at present.
As to a call for the introduction of a system for approving domestically developed COVID-19 drugs early under certain conditions, Kishida said that screening will be conducted quickly with a view to utilizing all possible measures, including the proposed system, once they are found safe and effective in clinical trials.
The government is not considering declaring a COVID-19 state of emergency at the moment, Kishida said. But he added, “We are ready to study necessary measures while carefully watching how the situation will develop.”
Shigeru Omi, head of the government’s COVID-19 task force, told the Budget Committee meeting that issuing a state of emergency could be an option if there are expectations that the medical system would become dysfunctional amid the rapid spread of infections.