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In Asia, both rich and poor countries are lagging in the effort to vaccinate.   © Illustration by Eric Chow
The Big Story

Vaccines versus the variants: Asia's race against time

For Japan, Philippines and more, a scientific miracle meets a political mess

MARRIAN ZHOU, FRANCESCA REGALADO, CLIFF VENZON and KIRAN SHARMA, Nikkei staff writers | East Asia

NEW YORK/TOKYO/MANILA/NEW DELHI -- The first generation of COVID-19 vaccines is a modern scientific miracle. In little over a year since the virus was identified, mass inoculations using safe, effective and thoroughly tested vaccines have begun in dozens of countries.

But now comes the hard part: Who gets them? And where? At stake is not just the zero-sum question of who lives and who dies. There is an even bigger issue: The longer the disease is allowed to thrive, the more likely it is to mutate into variants resistant to the vaccines. Vaccine hoarding by rich nations could leave vulnerable populations in poorer countries still exposed and prolong the pandemic for everyone.

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