As Olympics Begin, Japan Rolls Out Red Carpet For Pfizer CEO | Business and Economy News
The Japanese Prime Minister has met with the CEO of Pfizer to ensure the drugmaker delivers COVID-19 vaccines as supply shrinks.
The Japanese Prime Minister met with the CEO of Pfizer in an exceptionally high profile setting on Friday to ensure the drugmaker delivers the COVID-19 vaccine as promised in the coming period as the country faces problems supply and a growing epidemic.
Pfizer Inc CEO Albert Bourla, who is in Tokyo to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday, was greeted by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the Akasaka Palace State Guest House , usually used to welcome heads of state. Suga’s special hospitality for the Pfizer leader comes as Japan sees its vaccination campaign slow as local authorities press the central government for faster and more stable deliveries.
Over their nearly hour-long breakfast, Suga explained the current resurgence of the virus and Japan’s vaccine status. Suga and Bourla discussed a stable shipment of the vaccine, and Suga stressed that vaccines are the “trump card” in restoring social and economic activities, officials said.
Suga also thanked Bourla for donating tens of thousands of doses of Pfizer vaccine to athletes and Olympic participants to ensure their health during the games delayed by the pandemic, government officials said.
Taro Kono, a minister of state responsible for immunizations, joined the two at the state guesthouse, Japanese media reported.
Japan has signed with Pfizer to receive 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by June, and an additional 70 million between July and September.
About 23% of its population of over 126 million has been fully vaccinated, a number that has increased since May but is still a long way from what the Japanese government hoped to be before the Olympics. The youngest are largely unvaccinated.
Suga has asked Bourla to bring forward the delivery of 20 million doses scheduled for October, Kyodo News reported, citing unidentified officials.
Bourla, of Greek and Jewish descent, thanked Suga for his warm hospitality and wished Japan a successful Olympics. Their meeting took place the day after the director of the opening ceremony was fired by the Olympic organizers for a joke he made about the Holocaust.
Japan has weathered the pandemic better than many other countries, recording around 853,000 cases and 15,100 deaths since the start of the pandemic. But infections have increased, with Tokyo itself hitting a six-month high on Thursday of 1,979 daily cases.
Spectators are banned from all venues in the Tokyo area, with a limited audience allowed at a few outlying venues, in a measure taken in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But Suga’s government has come under fire for what some say is prioritizing the Olympics over the health of the nation.