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。








English novels by Billy Hammond published by AELS



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