Japan, the Olympics and Covid

One thing I’ve heard over and over on sports radio is Japan has a 20% vaccination rate.
Being sports radio they are of course more interested in the sports angle. What is the story with the low vaccination rate?

Most other countries don’t have enough vaccine to go around. At ~20% (22% fully vaxxed compared to ~49% in the US), Japan is doing better than most, to be honest. In the US (and Israel, the UK, the EU, and a few other places) this was one area we did a bit better/got lucky. The US is a major outlier in terms of vaccine access and availability.

It’s a difficult question to answer for overseas relatives - in the US, we have tens of millions people of people who won’t get vaccinated despite widespread availability but there are hundreds of millions, if not billions, worldwide who’d trade places in an instant to get one.

There are people from other countries traveling to the US just to get a vaccine because they can’t get one locally.

I understand the lack of availability in other countries. I made an assumption based on nothing at all that a country like Japan would be at the forefront of vaccine use.

Are there any other factors other than availability? Is there a strong anti-vax movement there?

Nope. Just supply.

And they ARE at the forefront of vaccine use. Or at least near the front. It’s not looking like most of the world will get even to the same stage until 2022 or 2023 while Japan should be largely vaccinated before year’s end. Considering the rate at which they’re getting supply and the plateauing of US vaccination, they’ll likely pass up the US vaccination rate by the end of summer.

It’s just that some countries, including us, got out really far ahead and got incredibly lucky the mRNA vaccines were so effective.

Japan rate for the first jab is about 30% and the rate for fully vaccinated is 20%.

Japan bet heavily on the AZ vaccine, purchasing 120 million doses, of which domestic pharmaceutical companies would produce 30 million doses. That would be sufficient for about 40% of the population. They also purchased other vaccines as well.

Japan took a wait-and-see attitude to examine how other countries fared, as they weren’t doing as badly as other countries.

AZ was approved in May for use in Japan, but there had already been the news about blood clotting and the Japanese public went nuts, rejecting the idea. I don’t know all the details, but there had been a problem with another vaccine, possibly from the same manufacturer previously. Japanese just hate these sort of things.

Consequently, the government decided against using that vaccine as with with other. This really slowed their vaccination program down, but they have been quickly making up for lost ground, just now overtaking South Korea.

It also left them with a huge surplus of vaccines, and they donated several million doses to Taiwan, Vietnam and other countries.

Taiwan has also had difficulty obtaining vaccines. It makes a different where you live.

Sadly, it appears that the mascot for this olympics is NOT Miraitowa, but the red spiked circle of the virus.

There was a news article about a protest in Japan. The protestors were carrying a banner that had the five olympic rings with a slash through each - as in “no olympics”. See the banner behind the red one:

I’m surprised that we haven’t seen a depiction of the olympic flag with the five rings replaced by five viruses.