Public officials and private companies across Japan are working on ways to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus infections. Currently, there have been over 17,000 people who have tested positive, and over 900 people have died in the country.
This preparation includes the addition of another 18 countries to Japan’s entry ban list, expanding the list from 111 to 129. While Japan adds countries such as Cuba and Lebanon, they consider easing the entry ban for Thailand, Australia, and another two nations.
The country tries to boost testing numbers as companies work together to speed up the manufacturing process for test kits. Fujirebio, along with two major electronics firms, will help expand capacity to create its nation tests. These kits can identify an infection much faster than PCR tests, with results in around 30 minutes. Toshiba will provide assistance and space to make the kits, while Hitachi will help make the process more efficient.
Japanese lawmakers will soon begin debating a new supplementary budget this week to support the government’s fight against coronavirus of which will include a reserve fund worth $91.5 billion. Half of this proposed money would go toward protecting jobs, supporting people in need, and helping local governments boost their medical systems, but there is opposition as some lawmakers feel that the government shouldn’t be given such a large “blank check.”
Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has pledged $300 million to help an international organization develop a vaccine. This is an additional $200 million from last month’s pledge. Abe has said, “The development of vaccines is in progress, collecting all the wisdom of humans […] we need to be well prepared to deliver them speedily to developing countries once they become available.”
Japan’s health ministry has laid out a plan designed to shorten the time needed to put coronavirus vaccines into practical use and speed up the process by simultaneously promoting both research and development and its production.
The health ministry has earmarked about $455 million, as subsidies to institutions involved in vaccine development in the proposed second supplementary budget for the fiscal year, and also about $1.3 billion in the extra budget to encourage private companies to invest in production facilities.
It normally takes a few years to develop and mass produce a vaccine, but the ministry’s officials say the hope to reduce the time substantially, and to start vaccinating the public in the first half of next year.
Author: Camryn Thomas