It is doubtful that Japan will find it difficult to deploy Covid-19 vaccination as planned


It is doubtful that Japan will find it difficult to deploy Covid-19 vaccination as planned

The above concern stems from the fact that there is a lack of specialized needles and syringes to maximize the number of injections from each Covid-19 vaccine vial.

Japan has so far recorded about 418,000 Covid-19 cases with 7,042 deaths. Photo: AFP

Manufacturers in Japan are scrambling to quickly increase production of specialized needles and syringes, but fear is inevitable that millions of doses of vaccine could be wasted.

Last month, the 126-million-people country signed a contract with pharmaceutical company Pfizer (USA) to buy 144 million doses of vaccine for 72 million people, with the immediate goal of triggering the vaccination campaign tomorrow, Feb. 17.

One vial of its Covid-19 vaccine can extract six injections, Pfizer said, but it requires specialized needles that can retain a small amount of solution after injection to extract six injections. Meanwhile, the standard syringe that the Japanese government reserves can only extract 5 shots.

“We are still trying to secure a supply of those specialized needles and syringes,” said Japan Chief Cabinet Office Katsunobu Kato today, February 16.

Last week, Mr. Katsunobu Kato avoided directly answering a question whether a shortage of specialized needles and syringes would reduce the number of vaccinations that Japan could make.

A spokeswoman for the Pfizer Japan branch and a Japanese Ministry of Health official both declined to say whether the contract to supply 144 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Japan by the end of this year can extract six doses from every vial of vaccine does.

Rapidly immunizing the entire population is a top priority for the government of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as the head of the Cabinet is determined to host the Tokyo Olympics this summer after a year of delay due to the Covid pandemic. -19.

In an effort to reduce residual vaccines in vials and syringes, the Japanese government has asked medical device manufacturers to increase production of dead-space syringes, but There is doubt that they can produce it fast enough to make the most of the vaccine and avoid waste.

Nipro Corp, which operates a large manufacturing plant in Thailand with a capacity of 500,000 syringes and needles a month, has said it has planned to increase its monthly capacity to several million units, but will lose it. up to 5 months to achieve this goal.

“We have received a request from the Ministry of Health (Japan) and we need to take some steps. But it’s not something we can do overnight. It takes 4-5 months. before we can speed up production very quickly, “said a Nipro spokesman.

Terumo Corp, Japan’s other major medical device maker, also said it has started developing syringes suitable for extracting six doses from one vial of vaccine, but it is too early to tell when. specific point to begin commercial production of such needles.

Although the number of Covid-19 cases per day in Japan has tended to decline in recent weeks after peaking in early January, Tokyo and nine other regions are still in a state of emergency due to Covid-19. According to NHK TV, Japan has so far recorded about 418,000 cases of Covid-19 with 7,042 deaths.

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