Japan is considering mixing shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other jabs as it looks to ramp up its inoculation efforts, according to the country’s vaccine minister.
Having previously relied on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in July and it has secured around two million doses.
The Reuters news agency reported the move could speed up the Japan’s rollout by shortening the intervals between the first and second jabs when using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Vaccine programme chief Taro Kono told the Fuji Television network:
I have asked the health ministry to come up with an opinion about the use of AstraZeneca vaccines for the first dose and Pfizer’s with the second, or the AstraZeneca’s as the first shot and Moderna as second.
Japan is battling its worst wave of infections, driven by the Delta variant, with new daily infections exceeding 25,000 this month for the first time.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s rolling coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Tom Ambrose.
Here are the latest Covid headlines on Sunday:
- Coronavirus infections in England are now 26 times the levels that were experienced this time last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. Scientists described the figures as “sobering”, warning that reopening schools this week was likely to trigger further rises in cases – with more to follow when students return to universities and colleges.
- In Australia, 1,323 new cases have been recorded today with the overwhelming majority coming from the country’s Covid epicentre of New South Wales (NSW). The state reported 1,218 cases on Sunday, with 813 patients hospitalised. State premier Gladys Berejiklian has committed to reopening once 70% of those 16 and older are fully vaccinated.
- Meanwhile, Britain’s tennis star Andy Murray has raised concerns over the lack of tennis players not getting the vaccine. He said he hopes that more players choose to be jabbed over the coming months as tennis faces a possible reckoning over its rate of inoculation among tour professionals, which is widely believed to be below 50%.
- In the US state of Oregon, the death toll from Covid is climbing so rapidly in some counties that it has organised delivery of one refrigerated truck to hold dead bodies and is having to send a second one. The request comes as the Delta variant tears through Oregon’s unvaccinated population.
- And finally, in India 45,083 new coronavirus infections were recorded on Sunday, according to its health ministry, driven by surging cases in the southern state of Kerala. The country’s Covid cases is at about 32.7 million, with deaths rising by 460 to 437,830 in the last 24 hours, data showed.