From Jiji Press
July 13 2020
TOKYO – The Japanese government is expected to prioritize medical workers and elderly people for vaccination against COVID-19, as work to develop vaccines for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus shifts into full gear.
The government will begin as early as this week to draw up a draft plan for vaccine prioritization, sources said. A recently created new committee on coronavirus response measures, comprising mainly experts, will hold discussions based on the draft and compile a proposal by autumn.
Research and development for COVID-19 vaccines has been accelerating around the world, with the first clinical trial in Japan launched late last month. While it is unclear when the vaccines will be available for practical use, the government hopes to begin vaccination as early as the first half of next year, according to the sources.
The government’s guidelines for prioritizing vaccines for the novel influenza, drawn up in 2013, call for the vaccines to be given to medical workers first, civil servants handling infectious disease response next and then workers providing basic infrastructure such as electricity, gas and public transport, as well as those working at banks and nursing care facilities.
For the novel coronavirus, the government sees the need to create a different plan as the new virus is not regarded as big a threat to maintaining the functions of society as the novel influenza, which is highly toxic, according to the sources.