The number of new cases of COVID-19 infection is not decreasing as expected nationwide, and the challenge for the future is how to provide the third dose of vaccination to the younger generation.
One month has passed since the lifting of the priority measures to prevent the spread of the virus, and although the daily number of infected people has surpassed the peak of the fifth wave last summer, the government has not asked people to refrain from traveling, believing that the situation is still in a lull.
Experts believe that the fact that the outbreak did not spread rapidly in the new fiscal year, when the movement of people increased, is partly due to heightened prevention awareness on the part of each and every individual. We must continue to take thorough measures to ensure that the number of cases does not increase after the holidays.
As the third dose of the vaccine has been administered, its effectiveness has also become clear. According to a survey conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the infection rate among those who have been vaccinated three times is only one-third that of those who have been vaccinated only twice. The effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing infection increases with the number of times the vaccination is given.
The number of people who have been vaccinated for the third time is nearly 90% among the elderly, but less than 30% of those in their 20s. The government should reiterate the efficacy of the third inoculation.
It is important for the government to carefully explain the effects and adverse reactions of the third vaccination to young people.
The vaccine manufactured by the U.S. company Novavax has also been newly approved in Japan, expanding the number of options available. Since it is produced in Japan, it is expected there will be a stable supply.
This type of vaccine is different from those made by Pfizer and Moderna, and people who are allergic to conventional vaccines can also be vaccinated. Because it is a new vaccine, some people may feel uneasy about it. The government should collect data from overseas and provide information.
The government is preparing for the early implementation of the fourth round of vaccinations, based on the reflection that the vaccinations were given too late. This requires a different approach than in the past.
Overseas clinical trials have confirmed that the vaccine prevents severe cases in the elderly, while it was less effective in younger people. For this reason, in Europe and the U.S., the fourth vaccination is limited to the elderly and middle-aged.
The reason why the fourth vaccination did not show a remarkable effect is unknown, but it is important for Japan to analyze overseas data and determine the target population.
Therapeutic drugs are also indispensable in controlling infectious diseases. In Japan, Shionogi filed for approval of a domestically produced oral drug in February, but no conclusion has been reached yet. We hope that the practical application of a therapeutic drug that can be safely taken by anyone will come soon.