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Fact Check-Japan has not authorized ivermectin to treat COVID-19 or revoked a vaccine mandate

Inaccurate claims about ivermectin being used to treat COVID-19 in Japan, a country where almost 80% of the population is fully vaccinated, have resurfaced online.

As previously debunked by Reuters on Nov. 1, 2021 ( here ), the drug is not approved by Japan’s medical regulator as a COVID-19 treatment.

Allegations the country has “revoked” or “dropped” a vaccine mandate are also misleading: Japan never imposed such a measure to begin with.

“Instead of being insane, Japan opted for Ivermectin and a return to freedom, and it’s paid off,” a Twitter user wrote, sharing an Our World in Data graph showing cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. (here)

IVERMECTIN

Ivermectin is an approved drug by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration for treating parasites in animals and humans ( here ). The agency has repeatedly warned against using it for COVID-19 ( here ), ( here ). Clinical trials ( here ) evaluating ivermectin as a viable treatment for COVID-19 are ongoing.

At the time of writing, the drug is not listed as approved to treat or prevent COVID-19 in Japan by the country’s medicines regulator, the Pharmaceuticals and Medicals Devices Agency (PMDA). A list of approved therapeutics and medical equipment to treat the virus ( here ) includes the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines as well as antivirals like Remdesivir and Molnupiravir. Ivermectin does not figure in the list.

Ivermectin is also not mentioned in the public guidance on COVID-19 from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare ( here ), ( here ), ( here ).

The AP and Forbes previously addressed similar misleading claims ( here ), ( here ) that surfaced after Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, a non-governmental organization, recommended the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 at a news conference in August 2021 ( here ).

Recent posts referring to the alleged “approval” of the drug in August are viewable ( here ), ( here ), ( here ).

According to a Reuters tally ( here ), by Jan. 12 Japan had administered enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines to immunize about 79.9% of its population ( here ).

VACCINE MANDATE

Reuters found at least two articles from early January with headlines that the country had “revoked” or “dropped" “all vaccine mandates” ( here ), ( here ). A social media post sharing the content can be seen ( here).

It is true COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory in the country. The Japanese Ministry of Health and Labor states on its websites that: “Although we encourage all citizens to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, is not compulsory or mandatory.” ( here )

Claims that Japan “dropped” immunization mandates are inaccurate. The country never implemented such a measure. Back in November, Bloomberg reported that Japan was leading “the G-7 in Covid Shots Without a Mandate in Sight.” ( here )

A Reuters Factbox listing countries where COVID-19 vaccination is compulsory for certain population groups ( here ) does not include Japan.

VERDICT

Partly false. Claims that ivermectin is an approved COVID-19 treatment in Japan are erroneous. COVID-19 vaccination in Japan is not compulsory, but the country has never implemented such a measure.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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