The unexpected arrival of the COVID-19 forced the 2020 summer olympics to be postponed to 2021. With less than 180 days for the scheduled start, Japan, the host of the event, has been feeling the heat. The country has now set an ambitious goal to vaccinate its total population of 126 million people to reach herd immunity and implement several strategies to precisely monitor the spread of the virus.
Random PCR Testing
Japan has announced plans to begin random PCR testing in the city areas from early March with thousands of tests to be carried out each day. The testing will be conducted in random and not just limited to asymptomatic citizens or those who have been in close connection to COVID-19 patients. The key testing locations would be crowded areas such as airports, companies, universities and cities like Tokyo and Osaka.
The Japanese government will invite contracted private companies to administer the plan. Samples can be collected on site or received by mail, and the cost will be fully covered.
Japan has obtained 144 million vaccines from Pfizer (BNT162), 50 million from Moderna (mRNA-1273) and 120 million from AstraZeneca (AZD1222), which together will be more than enough to vaccinate its 126 million people. The vaccination which is expected to launch in late February, will prioritize 10,000 medical workers, followed by 50 million of the elderly population over 65 years old and related care workers.
Prototype of Automated COVID-19 Testing Robots
On top of that, Japan has pushed for a contactless solution. Prototypes of an autonomous COVID-19 testing machine, developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), was presented on January 19th.
The robot is capable of drawing samples from a person’s nose and running PCR tests; testees would receive the result within 80 minutes. The design of the robot is also fitted for convenient transportation which can be placed in a standard 40-foot shipping container transferred by trucks for mass testing.
The developer claims that the autonomous testing robot can process 2,000 samples every 16 hours, which can substantially reduce the burden of local hospitals and relieve healthcare systems from the brink of collapse.
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