Japan to buy 10,500 freezers for COVID-19 vaccines

TOKYO (CNA) – Japan will buy 10,500 deep freezers to store novel coronavirus vaccines and is considering purchasing dry ice in bulk as it prepares to protect its population from the virus, its Ministry of Health said yesterday.

Japan has agreements to buy a total of 290 million doses of the vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, or enough for 145 million people if everyone gets two shots as required.

Pfizer’s vaccines need to be kept at around minus 75 degrees Celsius, and Moderna’s at about minus 20 degrees Celsius, posing logistics problems.

Pfizer, as well as Moderna and its domestic partner Takeda Pharmaceutical, plan to build networks to keep vaccines at the appropriate temperature as they are distributed to where they will be deployed, the ministry said in a statement.

The number of new coronavirus infections in Japan’s capital has topped 600 in a day for the first time. Experts on Tokyo’s virus task force said the surge in infections has placed an added burden on hospitals, making it difficult for many of them to carry out treatment for ordinary patients.

Tokyo reported 602 new cases yesterday, while the daily tally for the entire nation was 2,810. Japan has reported 168,573 infections since the pandemic began, with 2,465 deaths.

A woman, wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, walks along a colourful underpass in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP