Asked about his pandemic response on Jan. 11, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed his resolve to speed up the nation's COVID-19 booster rollout, repeating three times, "The schedule is being moved up."

His administration is faced with the full threat of the Omicron variant.

Earlier this month, the United States surpassed the grim milestone of 1 million cases per day. Records have also been broken in Britain and France.

In Japan, too, nationwide infections rose 15-fold in just one week, leaving the government with no choice but to accelerate all countermeasures.

Local governments, which are responsible for administering mass inoculations, are going to be really busy.

Unlike last year, when they only used the Pfizer vaccine in most cases, the process will be more complicated this year because the Moderna vaccine is coming into play.

These two brands need to be stored at different temperatures and they also differ in per-person dosage. Moreover, vaccines for children will also have to be handled once children under 12 become eligible for the shots.

The complexity of handling three types of vaccines is already making some local governments quite nervous.

The National Governors' Association has asked Kishida for an early announcement of the vaccine supply schedule.

This is because of the "trauma" the prefectural governors suffered last summer, when the administration rushed them into administering "1 million jabs a day."

But as it turned out, the administration had failed to secure the planned number of vaccines, resulting in the rollout being brought to an abrupt halt around the nation, causing considerable chaos.

A prefectural official in charge said in earnest, "Should an unexpected situation arise, we want the administration to notify us immediately and honestly this time."

"Flurona" is a recently coined expression in English that denotes having both influenza and COVID-19.

And "twindemic" is another new term meaning a pandemic of two separate diseases occurring in the world at the same time. The prospect is certainly unnerving.

It has been 100 days since the Kishida administration came into being.

And the lull in the pandemic that kept the administration's approval ratings stable is now over.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 12

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.