Wealthy Countries Once Hailed as successes lag in vaccinations

Wealthy Countries Once Hailed as successes lag in vaccinations

13 May 2021 Thursday 14:06
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Wealthy Countries Once Hailed as successes lag in vaccinations

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Some wealthy countries which were commended annually for commanding the coronavirus are now lagging far behind in getting their individuals vaccinated -- and a few, especially in Asia, are seeing COVID-19 instances grow.

In Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, the vaccination rates are languishing in the single figures. That is in sharp contrast to the U.S., where nearly half of all people have gotten at least one shooter, and Britain and Israel, at which rates are even higher.

Not only do those three Pacific countries rank worst one of all developed nations in vaccinating against COVID-19, they also rank below many developing nations such as Brazil and India, based on national statistics and the online scientific publication Our World in Data.

Australia, that is not supplying a full breakdown of its vaccination amounts, is also acting relatively poorly, as are a lot of different areas initially considered standout successes in battling the virus, including Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.

But meanwhile, previously successful nations are being left vulnerable to the virus and face more delays in reopening to the world.

Japan, for instance, has completely vaccinated only about 1 percent of its population and is confronting a significant new outbreak just 10 weeks before it is to host the already delayed Olympic Games -- although without audiences from overseas.

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The government last week announced an expansion of a state of crisis through the end of the month and supported more than 7,000 new instances on Saturday alone, the highest daily number since January.

Bureaucracy has been a part of the issue. Nations that confronted mounting death tolls in the virus often threw out the rulebook, rushing through emergency vaccine approvals and regretting second shots beyond the recommended deadline so as to maximize the number getting their original.

At the U.S., some groups handed out doughnuts, free beverages as well as bud to get folks to roll up their sleeves.

Japan went through a more conventional approval procedure that required an excess layer of clinical testing for vaccines that had already been analyzed elsewhere and were being widely employed.

And once it did start getting shots, Japan faced a shortage of people to manage them. Beneath the traditional medical culture, individuals only expect physicians and nurses sufficient to do so.

Dentists are prepared to assist and are authorized, but have not been called upon. Obtaining shots from pharmacists at drug stores such as from the U.S. or by volunteers with no clinical history other than a short practice like in Britain remains unthinkable in Japan.

New Zealand also went by its own approval process, finally giving a thumbs up to the Pfizer vaccine in February, two weeks after U.S. authorities had approved it for emergency use.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins a year ago promised New Zealand will be"in the front of the queue" for vaccines. He says the problem is supply.

"We can not move any faster than we can get the vaccines into the country," Hipkins told The Associated Press.

Pfizer declined to discuss whether it might have provided New Zealand any faster, discussing questions back to the authorities.

Its plans to utilize largely Australian-made vaccines took a blow in December when development was halted to a promising candidate because it produced false-positive HIV benefits.

Then the European Union blocked a shipment of over 250,000 AstraZeneca doses to Australia in March, contemplating the EU's demands greater. Australian regulators also switched from recommending the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Pfizer vaccine as their preferred option for people under age 50, slowing the rollout further.

Back in South Korea, government officials initially insisted on a wait-and-see strategy with vaccines, saying the country's outbreak wasn't as dreadful as in America or Europe. But as transmissions worsened in recent months, people pressure mounted and officials sped up their discussions with drug companies.

Worried about potential deficits, South Korea's Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun along with other officials started pointing fingers at steps taken from the U.S., Europe and India to tighten controls on vaccine exports to take care of large outbreaks at home.

Taiwan has given first shots to less than 1% of its population, after receiving only a portion of the millions of doses it arranged. It has also been developing its own COVID-19 vaccine, which officials say will probably be accessible by the end of July under emergency usage.

When it had effectively eliminated the virus, Taiwan this week raised its emergency preparedness and enforced crowd restrictions after discovering unexplained and new cases in the community. President Tsai Ing-wen has called on people not to fear.

Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccine specialist at New Zealand's University of Auckland, stated there were some benefits of taking a less frantic, more measured approach to vaccinating.

"It's a lot easier to dedicate yourself to something after you've seen it be utilized 100 million times," she said.

And having the luxury of adhering to the three-week program for second doses of this Pfizer vaccine will likely result in more people getting these shotsshe added. Those facing extended waits for second doses were likely to lose interest or proceed with their lives.

Petousis-Harris explained that New Zealand and a number of other wealthy countries which were slow to get going will probably see their vaccination rates rise quickly in the coming weeks as their attempts swing into high gear.

The following year, she said, it will once again be growing countries that are left .


Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Kim Tong-hyung at Seoul, South Korea, Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, and Rod McGuirk at Canberra, Australia, contributed to the report.



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