December 15, 2021
by David Axe
photo above: news24online.com
WN: The article highlighted below stands to reason . . .
COVID cases are on the rise all over the world. The onset of winter in the northern hemisphere, the rapid spread of the new and more transmissible Omicron variant, and the stubbornness of the previous variant, Delta, have all contributed to a surge in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in many countries.
But not in Japan. In Japan, COVID has all but disappeared. And it’s mostly clear why.
“It always comes down to vaccines, to social restrictions [on] large gatherings, mask-wearing,” Dale Fisher, group chief of medicine at Singapore’s National University Health System, told The Daily Beast. “There’s no secret code that any country has discovered.”
While many countries including the United States struggle against a stubborn minority of fervent anti-vaxxers, Japan has quietly vaccinated 80 percent of its 126 million people. That’s nearly everyone who’s over 5 years old and thus eligible.
In a lot of countries, mask mandates are deeply controversial. But not in Japan, where many people habitually wore masks in public even before the pandemic.
When SARS-CoV-2 first came to Japan, the country suffered like every other country did, scrambling to contain the virus through a combination of business and school closures, mask mandates, contact-tracing, quarantines, and travel bans.
More than 18,000 Japanese have died. That’s 14 out of every 100,000 people in the country, compared to 127 out of 100,000 in Germany and a staggering 242 out of 100,000 in the U.S.
Once vaccines were widely available starting this spring, however, Japan showed the world that it’s special, if not quite unique. There are a few other countries that are as highly vaxxed as Japan is—Singapore and Israel, to name a couple. But even those two countries are registering a lot more new cases than Japan is right now. Last week, authorities in Tokyo reported just 113 new infections a day on average. Israeli officials reported 615 cases a day in a population of 9 million people. Singapore, with fewer than 6 million people, reported 645 a day.
Japan is beating COVID primarily by steadily vaccinating everyone. Remarkably, it did so without really mandating jabs anywhere. “Vaccines will never be administered without the recipient’s consent,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed on his official website. “We urge the public never to coerce vaccinations at the workplace or upon others around them, and never to treat those who have not received the vaccine in a discriminatory manner.”
That lack of coercion didn’t seem to matter. It took just five months for almost all eligible Japanese to get jabbed.
But even widespread vaxxing and masking don’t totally explain Japan’s success suppressing the virus, Taro Yamamoto, chairman of the Department of International Health at the Institute of Tropical Medicine at Nagasaki University, told The Daily Beast. “It’s not clear at this point what other factors are involved,” Yamamoto said.
The Japanese government has adopted sound COVID policies and the Japanese people, demonstrating what to Americans might seem like an unusual degree of trust in their leaders and each other, have gone right along. Plus, the country appears to just be… lucky. “I don’t believe Japan has a secret formula,” Fisher said.
If there’s a caveat, it’s that one of the most stringent policies—on-again, off-again bans on travel to Japan—isn’t really helping. Japan was all but inaccessible to non-resident foreigners for two years. Tokyo was just about to start relaxing the travel ban when Omicron first appeared. Now Japan remains closed to most outsiders.
As far as COVID is concerned, Japan has done almost everything right. But that could change as the pandemic enters its third year and Japan, as well as the rest of the world, tries to keep up with an evolving virus and achieve some form of population-level “herd” immunity, where viral transmission is all but impossible.
“SARS-COV2 mutates quickly, and like the flu, there will always be viruses that escape immunity,” Yamamoto said. “The acquisition of herd immunity will be established after immunity to some mutant strains has been acquired. It will take a year or two.”
Please click on: Japan Stopped COVID Dead in Its Tracks