Highly Infectious Variant behind Surge in Fatalities, Shibuya Says
Japan is in the midst of a deadly eighth wave of COVID infections, despite high immunity levels from vaccination and natural infection. While there have been some 62,200 fatalities during the three years of the pandemic, 12,620—or nearly one-fifth—have been reported in just the last six weeks.
“The obvious reason” for the rise in fatalities, Research Director Kenji Shibuya was quoted in the Telegraph as saying, “is that the number of infected people is very high. . . . Even if the case fatality rate is declining, the death figure gets larger if there are many cases.”
He also suggested that a “lack of access to community medical care at local clinics or facilities” is contributing to the jump in deaths. Under Japan’s Infectious Diseases Control Law, COVID is designated as a category two disease—meaning that patients can only be treated at designated facilities.
A large share of fatalities are among vulnerable, elderly nursing home residents with underlying conditions, whose health may deteriorate quickly if they cannot be treated at local facilities. “There has been a heated debate about whether we should change Covid-19 from category two to category five, like seasonal flu,” Shibuya said. “In my opinion, there is no point to stick with category two.”
“Covid Deaths Soar among Japan’s Elderly as Omicron Rips through Nursing Homes,” The Telegraph
Profile of Research Director Kenji Shibuya
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