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Japan pulls 1.6M COVID vaccine doses over contamination fear as COVID’s spread causes heartache, Paralympic anxiety

Tokyo — Japan’s Health Ministry has pulled about 1.63 million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine out of use after 39 unused vials at eight vaccination websites have been found to be contaminated with a still-unspecified substance. No issues of safety have been reported. All of the suspect vials have been manufactured in Spain.

Moderna has been despatched primarily to mass-vaccination facilities in Japan, such as universities and enormous corporations, and it was unclear how badly the incident may set again Japan’s already-delayed inoculation marketing campaign. More than 800 vaccination websites have been affected.

Touring a vaccination clinic in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward on Thursday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga advised Japanese media that he’d ordered well being officers to “make safety our top priority” in responding to the contaminated vaccine situation. He supplied assurances that the incident “would not have a significant impact” on the nation’s vaccination program, which lags considerably behind these of different main industrialized nations. 

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (C) and his spouse Mariko Suga meet with first girl Jill Biden (L) on the Akasaka State Guest House in Tokyo on July 22, 2021 on the eve of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

STR/JAPAN POOL/AFP by way of Getty Images

Suga, whose recognition has taken a beating over his dealing with of the pandemic, stands for re-election to the ruling occasion presidency on September 29. The chief of the governing occasion routinely turns into prime minister in Japan.

One of Suga’s rivals, former overseas minister Fumio Kishida, threw his hat within the ring on Thursday, suggesting he would take extra aggressive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, in response to the Prime Minister’s Office, solely 42.6% of Japan’s common inhabitants was totally vaccinated.

While Japan has additionally authorized each the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, issues over blood clot points delayed rollout of the latter till this week; it’s being restricted to these 40 and over, as in Britain. 

COVID and the Paralympics

The Tokyo Paralympics introduced on Thursday — Day 2 of competitors — that the primary participant had been hospitalized for COVID for the reason that Games started. The affected person was described as a overseas non-athlete, with out life-threatening signs. Fifteen others, together with two overseas opponents staying on the Athletes’ Village, have examined optimistic, for a complete of 184 Paralympics-related circumstances.

Japan’s newest wave of COVID-19 has dented the spirit of joyous empowerment and positivity that the Paralympics is making an attempt to convey. 

The challenges of reporting on the Olympics

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Seijiro Takeshita, a professor who lives along with his household southwest of Tokyo, advised CBS News that the fear amongst residents is palpable: “I would say that in terms of frustration and anger and, most of all, worry and anxiety, is definitely reaching its peak.”

Restrictions increase with hospitals full

On Wednesday, with the Delta variant driving each day circumstances past 25,000, an present state of emergency within the Tokyo area was expanded to 21 of the nation’s 47 prefectures.

Including prefectures lined by a less-onerous quasi-state of emergency, practically the complete nation was below some type of anti-viral restrictions once more as of Thursday. The variety of extreme circumstances in Japan, now at 1,964, has hit new highs each day for the previous couple of weeks.

Tragic tales of sufferers unable to get admitted to overwhelmed hospitals and compelled to recuperate at residence have change into alarmingly frequent. 

Last week in Chiba, east of the capital, well being officers revealed {that a} pregnant lady in her 30s affected by COVID had been unable to discover a hospital mattress and went into untimely labor at residence. The toddler was declared useless quickly after.