Japan vaccine czar Kono says inoculation pace to accelerate in May

FILE PHOTO: Japan’s vaccination programme chief Taro Kono attends a news conference on the country’s preparations to begin vaccinating health workers, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s vaccine minister, Taro Kono, said on Monday that the pace of inoculation in the country would accelerate in May, with 10 million doses expected to be imported every week that month.

“Starting in May, there will be no bottleneck in supply,” Kono told Reuters in an interview. Officially the minister in charge of administrative reform, Kono was tapped in January to lead Japan’s COVID-19 vaccination push.

Japan started its vaccination campaign last month, later than most major economies and dependent on imported doses of Pfizer Inc’s vaccine. Shots developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Moderna Inc are now awaiting regulatory approval in Japan.

Through Friday, just over 780,000 people in Japan, mostly healthcare workers, have received at least one vaccine dose.

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