Japan Seeks Additional Vaccines for COVID-19 Booster Campaign

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday his government is seeking to accelerate its COVID-19 booster shots campaign and has reached out to the head of U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer to secure additional vaccines.

Kishida told reporters the government has been negotiating to receive 120 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine ahead of schedule. He said during his call with the company’s CEO, Albert Bourla, he also agreed to purchase two million doses of Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 treatment, Paxlovid.

The government started arrangements Thursday to adjust the timeframe for workers and patients in elder-care facilities to receive booster shots to six months after their second shots. Health officials shortened the original eight-month timeline between initial vaccinations and booster shots after the discovery of the new omicron variant of coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Japan has confirmed a handful of omicron variant cases. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirmed on Friday that a man in his 20s who attended a soccer match near the capital was found positive for omicron.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno also confirmed 70 coronavirus cases have been found at the U.S. Camp Hansen military base in the southern island prefecture of Okinawa.

Matsuno said the Japanese government has urged U.S. officials there to thoroughly quarantine infected persons, identify close contacts at an early stage, and strengthen measures to prevent the spread of infection.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters.

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