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Asia supercharges vaccination efforts after slow start, U.S. lags By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. A doctor draws the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca at the Infectious Diseases hospital in Colombo (Sri Lanka), January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo

By Rocky Swift and Aradhana Aravindan

TOKYO/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Several Asian nations are quickly ramping up vaccination campaigns from shaky starts to combat growing COVID-19 infections, as supply shipments roll in and people overcome hesitancy in hopes of easing curbs and freeing up travel.

In terms of the number of people who received at least one dose, Japan and South Korea now surpass the United States and are quickly catching up to the second.

Australia is aiming high vaccination rates to avoid lockdowns, reopen borders and has already given at least one shot to 56% people as the infection peak.

Premier Scott Morrison, who spoke to the media Thursday night in Canberra said that the double vaccine mark of 70% is visible and that it’s possible for people to receive 80%. Keep going Australia.

Although each country has its own inoculation strategy, Asia’s momentum is indicative of a pent-up demand to get the shots. This was said by Paul Griffin, an infectious diseases expert from the University of Queensland, northeast Australia.

Australia will prioritize supplies for its biggest cities. This is to prevent a third round of infection from the Delta variant. By mid-October, it expects to be able to provide enough vaccines for all those aged 12 and older.

Japan has overcome initial logistics hurdles to give about a million shots a day since mid-June, as urgency has grown after Delta unleashed an unprecedented wave of infections and serious cases in August.

Takahiro Yamashita, an official from vaccine information group Cov-Navi, stated, “That clearly accelerated vaccination motivation, especially in young and mid-age groups.”

Japan’s vaccination rate was boosted by the push for “returning to a normal lifestyle,” Yoshihide Saka, Prime Minister, announced on Thursday. Suga had served a year in office, but his tenure ended after an unhappy COVID-19 response.

Fumie Sakamoto from St. Luke’s International Hospital, Tokyo, stated that consistent messaging was used to combat health fears similar to previous vaccination drives.


Still, experts agree that vaccinations will plateau everywhere.

The United States and Britain have stagnated inoculation rates after they had sought to immunise millions of citizens a few months back.

To counter the slowdown and a groundswell of anti-vaccine sentiment, U.S. President Joe Biden announced new mandates this week.

Griffin stated that he believes they do not have the same motivation as we (Australia), which relied upon very strict restrictions to protect people. He also said that “they don’t have the same incentive to get high vaccinations.”

China, which has more than 70% coverage, stated this month it is difficult to increase its vaccination program. However, they did not specify the obstacles.

With more than 80% of the population fully vaccinated in Singapore, it is Asia’s most populous country, and therefore, Singapore has begun to focus on booster doses when infections increase.

Although there are some skeptics among seniors and people concerned about possible side effects, most citizens have high levels of trust in government which makes it easier to comply.

Dale Fisher of the National University Hospital in the city said that “if the carrot is that we’re going to relax restrictions if the vaccination rate gets high enough”, then it will be able to sway some people but not all.

Singapore has linked its reopening with milestones for vaccination and has set restrictions on non-vaccinated persons dining in restaurants.

South Korea has increased its shipments, an improvement over the initial difficulties it faced in obtaining vaccines.

A Thursday official indicated that it is expected to be able to reach over 70% of the country’s population by Friday with its first dose.

India has administered at least one dose to nearly 42% its almost 1.4 billion population, making it the nation with the highest incidence of infection. It is also home to the 2nd-highest number of cases.