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PFIZER, INC.

(PFE)
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Cartoon dog pitches COVID vaccines to sceptical Japanese public

02/11/2021 | 11:37pm EST

TOKYO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - As Japan gears up for a COVID-19 vaccination drive, a cheerful cartoon dog chatbot is doing its bit to reassure a notoriously vaccine-sceptical population and answer any questions they might have.

Trust in vaccines in Japan is among the lowest in the world, a study by the Lancet medical journal showed. Only half the population want to take a COVID-19 vaccine, a poll by national broadcaster NHK found last month.

It is among the last major economies to begin its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, which is seen as vital for preparations for the Olympic Games, due to open in fewer than 200 days, after being postponed in 2020 as the coronavirus spread.

The government is expected to approve Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 vaccine this weekend, and begin shots almost immediately, prioritising front-line health workers.

While the anti-vaccine movement in the United States is relatively new and driven largely by fears of autism, vaccine hesitancy in Japan stems from vague safety concerns going back decades.

Unproven reports of side effects halted active inoculation campaigns for mumps in the early 1990s and HPV in 2013.

Officials are counting on a generally high degree of compliance with medical directives that carry the government's stamp of approval.

But with waning support for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's administration, partly over its handling of the pandemic, an enthusiastic take-up of the shots remains uncertain.

"In Japan, I would say that trust in the government can directly be associated with trust in vaccines," said Yuji Yamada, a doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

"It can still go both ways at this point," said Yamada, one of the 10 young Japanese physicians who helped create the dog chatbot to spread lessons learned from overseas vaccination efforts and to counter social media rumours.

Vaccine tsar Taro Kono, who has posted a video in which he talks frankly about possible side effects of coronavirus vaccines, promoted the cheerful dog chatbot on Twitter last week.

The dog, a Shiba-inu known as Corowa-kun - from the Japanese words for "coronavirus" and "vaccine" - wears a white doctor's coat and the app named for him gives automated answers to medical questions. (Reporting by Rocky Swift Editing by Sayantani Ghosh, Robert Birsel)


ę Reuters 2021
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Financials (USD)
Sales 2021 81 972 M - -
Net income 2021 22 216 M - -
Net Debt 2021 27 397 M - -
P/E ratio 2021 13,8x
Yield 2021 3,00%
Capitalization 296 B 296 B -
EV / Sales 2021 3,95x
EV / Sales 2022 3,12x
Nbr of Employees 78 500
Free-Float 59,3%
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Managers and Directors
Albert Bourla Chairman, Chief Executive & Operating Officer
Susan Silbermann President & General Manager-Pfizer Vaccines
Frank A. D'Amelio Chief Financial Officer & EVP-Global Supply
Mikael Dolsten Executive VP, President-Research & Development
Lidia L. Fonseca Executive VP, Chief Digital & Technology Officer
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