The following is the gist of interpellations at the Lower House budget committee meeting on Dec. 15, 2021:
Imaeda Soichiro (Liberal Democratic Party): What kinds of measures will the government take to combat a possible sixth COVID-19 wave, which could be triggered by the Omicron variant?
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio: We have earmarked funds to cover the costs of providing free, no-reservation-required [PCR] tests in the fiscal 2021 supplementary budget. We are trying to approve oral drugs within this year. We will also move up as much as possible the schedule for administering third shots of COVID-19 vaccines.
Imaeda: Countries around the world have already begun negotiations with pharmaceutical companies on the assumption that vaccines against Omicron will be developed.
Kishida: If Pfizer and Moderna succeed in developing vaccines against Omicron, we will be able to receive those vaccines as our vaccine allocation for next year within the framework of the contract we have already signed.
Kii Takashi (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan): I want the government to set up a committee to investigate the cases in which COVID patients died while recuperating at home.
Kishida: I have instructed the health ministry to sort out possible measures. (Abridged)