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Infections won't decline even if 60% of population vaccinated: Japan task force head

Shigeru Omi, head of the government's coronavirus countermeasures subcommittee, is seen in this photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Dec. 23, 2020. (Mainichi/Keisuke Harada)

TOKYO -- Shigeru Omi, head of the government's coronavirus countermeasures subcommittee, said in an evening TV program on July 20, "Unfortunately, this virus is so strong that infections can't be brought under control even if about 60% of the population receives them (the vaccine)."

    In the Nippon Television Network Corp.'s program, Omi expressed his view that it would be difficult to obtain herd immunity even if the vaccination rate increased, and that restrictions on daily and economic activities should be eased carefully.

    Omi pointed out that "if 60 to 70% of the population is inoculated, the number of seriously ill patients will decrease, but infections cannot be completely prevented."

    When asked about how the U.K. ended most of its infection countermeasures such as mask mandates and restrictions on the number of participants at events in England on July 19, including London, he replied, "That's a pretty risky way to go about it. Japan should be a little more careful."

    Omi also predicted that if the number of new infections continue to increase at the current pace in Tokyo, coronavirus cases will double in two weeks and exceed the peak of the "third wave" when it saw a record high of infections around the year-end and the New Year holidays.

    "We're arriving at the toughest time ever. The collapse of the health care system is possible, so I want everyone to make one last effort," he said.

    The coronavirus subcommittee has announced that it plans to put together a guideline on the way of life when the vaccine rollout has progressed by Aug. 22 -- the deadline for the current state of emergency.

    (Japanese original by Keisuke Harada, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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