May 29, 2024

In this article for BBC News, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes looks at the Japanese COVID-19 response and how the country was able to prevent massive deaths despite having the right conditions for rapid transmission of the virus – a huge elderly population, and jam-packed cities. 

Some experts say that Japan’s culture of mask-wearing and Japanese mores on greetings (bowing instead of hugging and kissing) may have contributed to the country’s success in controlling the spread of the coronavirus. But one scientist from Tokyo University says otherwise.

According to Tatsuhiko Kodama, their research suggests that the Japanese may have “historical immunity” as it is possible that a COVID-like virus has infected the country before.

Editor’s Note: This article is valuable for various reasons. First, it highlights the importance of a strong immune system. Even though SARS-COV-2 is a new virus, the human body learns how to respond to it through a previous exposure to a similar virus [the connection between human health and viruses are more thoroughly discussed by the article Our Complicated Relationship With Viruses]. 

Second, this article offers a clue to how we can protect ourselves from the burden of most diseases, including COVID-19. Japan’s elderly population is considered as one of the healthiest in the world, thanks in part to their traditional diet. They have low levels of obesity, and very few have cardiovascular diseases and hypertension – two of the most common co-morbidities of those who died with COVID-19. If we commit to caring for our health, then we must realize that nutrition and diet are of utmost importance. 

Third, for the Japanese, there was no need for lockdowns because they incorporated what was already known about the coronavirus when they developed a national response plan. This clarity in the nature and behavior of the virus helped its citizens make decisions for themselves, which in effect helped control the spread of the virus. 

Our governments must learn to trust that their citizens can make the right decisions towards preventing the spread of the coronavirus. There is no need to curtail our personal freedoms to protect us from illness. We must assert our rights to these freedoms, read END THE LOCKDOWNS! Stop It Outside By Ending the Lockdowns Inside Us.

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