By Billy Hammond (Copyright AELS)

April 26, 2020

The unbelievably low death rate in Japan for Covid-19 infections has led some to speculate that the Japanese might have some kind of unique immunity to the disease. Some people have pointed to the TB vaccination program carried out in Japan using the BCG vaccine, but I have my doubts about that theory since TB is caused by one of the bacteria in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and not by a virus.

I thought back to the diseases I’ve gone through since coming to Japan and two candidates arose: influenza and rubella.

Influenza is a single-stranded negative sense RNA virus and while it enters the cell by endocytosis like Covid-19, there are features of the virus that make me want to look elsewhere.

On the other hand, Rubella is a member of the Togaviridae which have positive sense, single-stranded RNA genomes, and are enveloped and isocaheral (sound familiar? Covid-19 shares these features). Rubella is one of the two genera in the family: the Rubivirus and Alphavirus.

Thus, if I were to choose a virus infection that might confer immunity to Covid-19, I would have to go for the Rubivirus, since it is so prevalent in Japan and so many Japanese have a history of it.

Other causes I might think of for the low death rate are the prevalence of the milder S strain of the virus in Japan as opposed to the more aggressive L strain. Some people have pointed out the wearing of shoes in homes to the spread of infection of the virus, but that seems a little far-fetched, although not discountable. Likewise, the difference in bathing habits (frequency, rinsing) might also be brought up. Nicotine use as a protection from the virus might have also been brought up in the Showa era, when many Japanese smoked, but it’s rather unlikely today.

For the moment, though, I would check out the history of rubella infections among those people experiencing severe symptoms from Covid-19.

At any rate, whatever the cause may be, even one death less is great!

COVID-19:日本人免疫?

COVID-19新型コロナウイルスの信じ難しい低い日本死亡数で何人かが『日本人には何らかの不思議な免疫力がある』と言い出している。テレビのニュースキャスターが時々結核に対してのBCG予防接種を取り上げるが、その説について疑問を持つ。なぜならば、結核の病原菌はMycobacterium tuberculosis系のバックテリアである、ウイルスではない。

来日してから私個人が掛かった病気を思い出したら、アメリカに珍しい2つが浮かんできた:インフルエンザと風疹(三日ばしか)。

インフルエンザは一本鎖マイナス鎖RNAウイルス(Covid-19はプラス鎖RNAウイルス)であり、Covid-19のようにエンドサイトーシスで細胞内に侵入しても差が多すぎるので外す。

他方では風疹はトガウイルス科のメンバーで一本鎖プラス鎖RNA20面体のエンベロープを持ったウイルス(Covid-19も同じ)。風疹はトガウイルス科の二つの属のAlphavirusRubivirusに入る。そこで、候補ウイルスを選ぶなら『風疹』を選ぶだろ。日本で広域に広まっているし、それに掛かったことがある日本人が多い。

他の低い死亡数の原因として考えられるのは日本には主によりマイルドな『S』菌株の広がり(強烈な『L』菌株ではなく)。

何人かが日本人の靴を抜く習慣を指摘しているが、それは可能であっても少し考えにくいだ。同じく浴びる習慣の指摘(浴びる頻度、流し習慣)もある。それから昭和時代なら現在フランスで研究されているニコチンも取り上げられたが、今の日本ではそれが考えられない。

どの原因であっても、1人でも死なないことは最高だ。

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English novels by Billy Hammond published by AELS

(AELS出版英語書籍リスト)

 

I. Majoh Gakuin and Hikari Juku – Japanese Witch Schools Trilogy

1. Majoh Gakuin & Hikari Juku – Japanese Witch Schools

2. Lost Witch (The second book)

3. Fate & Magic (The final book in the trilogy)

II. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire Trilogy

1. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire

2. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire – Returns

3. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire – Challenges (The final book in the trilogy)

III. Fantasy fiction set in Japan

1. 21st Century Ninja

2. Regressed

3. Japanese Woman

IV. Fantasy fiction set outside of Japan

1. Dimension Jumpers

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