Japan (MNN) — This week, the company Pfizer will deliver an estimated 2.9 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to locations around the US. The UK has already begun using the vaccine, which was developed by the German company BioNTech.
The vaccine was developed in under a year and uses new technology to vaccinate people against viruses. It needs to be kept at very cold temperatures, at least 70 degrees below zero Celsius.
The vaccine has been put through rigorous safety checks, and the FDA approved it for emergency use on Friday. Pfizer’s vaccine is 95% effective at preventing someone from catching COVID-19, according to several studies. The vaccine surprised many by how effective it was, shattering the highest expectations of scientists. Other COVID-19 vaccines, including the Moderna vaccine and one developed at Oxford University, may be rolled out for use in the coming weeks as well.
The vaccine rollout marks a hopeful moment in a time when millions around the world suffer under sickness or lockdown. The United States alone just passed 300,000 COVID-19 deaths over the course of the year.
Vaccine in Japan
Japan is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases as well and has begun buying freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine. But Takeshi Takazawa of Asian Access says many Japanese remain pessimistic and have a lot of questions. “Do we have enough? Oh, you have to keep it in a very cold fridge? Do we have enough fridges? Those [things] grab attention way more than what it might provide for us. So people are hopeful, but they keep saying regular people will not get it [right away]. Maybe after the Olympics.”
Japan postponed the 2020 Olympic Games due to COVID-19, a move which Takazawa says devastated the Japanese people not just economically, but mentally. However, the country now plans to host the games in Tokyo this summer, and vaccines may play a key role in allowing the games to go forward.
In the meantime, Takazawa says, “Please pray that people of Japan will seek out the God who created us, created this world. That’s one. The god of this world has done a great job shielding the sight of Japanese people not to see the future hope, but only the problems of the current and the present. So pray that the people will be able to seek out the hope in the future.”
Header image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay.