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World News

Japan says it will bear cost of coronavirus vaccines for populace

People wearing protective masks ride an escalator amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Tokyo, Japan August 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s government said on Friday it would bear the cost of providing coronavirus vaccines to the populace, as it aims for a comprehensive inoculation against the pandemic.

The government also said it planned to establish funds to compensate for possible side effects from the vaccines. The plans were outlined in documents distributed at a briefing by Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who also heads the coronavirus response.

Outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had pledged the government would secure enough vaccines for every Japanese citizen by the middle of next year.

Japan has made bilateral agreements with overseas pharma companies to secure hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines that are still being tested.

It has also agreed to join a World Health Organisation effort that aims to buy and fairly distribute inoculations.

With more than 70,000 cases and 1,334 fatalities, Japan has weathered the pandemic better than many other countries.

Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by David Dolan, Toby Chopra and Alison Williams

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