Will the Tokyo Olympics go well? The question is all the more topical as the Japanese government once again extended, on Friday May 28, the state of emergency in force in part of the archipelago in the face of Covid-19, until June 20 now, almost a month before the opening of the Games (scheduled from July 23 to August 8).
And “The situation continues to be uncertain”, in the words of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the country’s record has not yet reached that of the most affected. In total, the pandemic has killed at least 3.51 million people around the world since the end of December 2019, according to a report established from official sources by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Friday.
These figures, which are based on daily reports from national health authorities, are generally underestimated. They exclude the upward revisions carried out a posteriori by certain statistical organizations. By taking into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates that the real toll is “Two to three times higher”.
In Japan, the situation continues to be uncertain
“The number of new cases has declined since mid-May, but the situation continues to be uncertain”Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday to justify extending the state of emergency until June 20. Already extended by three weeks in May, the state of emergency currently concerns 10 of the 47 Japanese departments, including those of Tokyo and its suburbs, Osaka and Kyoto. This device is however much lighter than the containment measures imposed elsewhere in the world. It mainly consists of forcing bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m. and asking them not to serve alcohol.
The Japanese archipelago has been relatively spared from the pandemic, with some 12,700 officially recorded deaths since early 2020, but it is currently undergoing a fourth wave of the coronavirus. The Japanese government is criticized for its handling of the health crisis, the slowness of its vaccination program and its insistence on maintaining the Olympic Games, which involve the arrival of tens of thousands of athletes, officials and journalists from around the world. In March, the organizers had decided to ban the arrival of spectators from abroad, a first in Olympic history. They must decide in June on the presence or not of spectators residing in Japan.
Janssen vaccine authorized in UK
The UK approved the single-dose Janssen coronavirus vaccine from US pharmaceutical group Johnson & Johnson on Friday, adding a fourth vaccine to its arsenal in the fight against the pandemic. Approved by the British regulator, the MHRA, this vaccine will join those of Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna – which require two doses – already used in the country.
The UK has ordered 20 million doses of the vaccine, which, like AstraZeneca’s, is the subject of fears around rare cases of blood clots. Belgium decided this week to restrict its use to people over 40, after the death of a young patient who may have suffered side effects.
The country hardest hit by the pandemic in Europe with nearly 128,000 deaths, the United Kingdom launched a mass vaccination campaign in December which allowed a first dose to be administered to more than 38 million people (73.3 % of adult population) and a second to over 24 million (45.6% of adults).
After a long and strict winter confinement, the country has eased restrictions linked to the pandemic but is currently facing an increase in the number of cases, largely attributed to the spread of the variant that first appeared in India and which poses the threat of death. ‘a postponement of the lifting of the last restrictions normally scheduled for June 21.