Japan Speechless & Flabbergasted – Can’t Explain High Covid Deaths Despite High Vaccination Rate

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Jan 16 2023
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Statistics show Japan has recorded 31.4 million cases and more than 62,000 deaths due to Covid-19. The figures don’t look too horribly bad compared with the United States that saw more than 100 million cases and more than 1 million deaths. However, the Coronavirus death rate has been on the uptrend in Japan. Even new cases are hitting the roof – despite high vaccination rate.


In December 2021, Japan was the proud nation that reported less than one Covid-19 death per day. It was the only nation in G-7 – the richest seven countries in the world – that remarkably had so few deaths since the pandemic started. The number of cases also plunged from more than 25,000 a day in August 2021 to fewer than 200 a day by December that year.


Even though more than 77% of the nation’s 126 million residents were fully inoculated by the end of 2021, analysts and researchers nevertheless could not explain why the cases and deaths suddenly receded so dramatically in late summer and early fall. It could be due to extremely high vaccination rate, where 92% of those 65 years and older having received two shots.

Coronavirus - Japan Covid-19

Still, it failed to explain why many other developed nations, including Australia and South Korea, which have rolled out similarly comprehensive vaccination campaigns have seen rising infections and deaths. Some credited the use of face masks by Japanese. Others called it the “X factor”, such as genetics, because it simply didn’t make sense as Omicron variant was spreading.


Besides looking into the genetics, which may provide hints of a stronger immune system, researchers have also considered diet and other factors like weather and the possibility of past exposure to mild Covid variants that may have led to the lower infection and death counts in Japan. But why only the Japanese enjoyed immunity, and not neighbouring Koreans, who also practised masking and social distancing?


In December 2022, a year later, all hell broke loose. In the 7 days towards the end of the year, Japan had the world’s largest confirmed Covid infections and the second-most deaths after the United States, according to the World Health Organization. Worse, the number of new cases of infection nationwide by age group has been increasing in all age groups.

Coronavirus - Japan Covid-19 Deaths Waves - Chart

On January 6, 2023 alone, the country recorded more than 245,000 cases – just slightly lower than 260,000 cases during the “seventh wave” in August 2022. In fact, a record 7,688 people in Japan died from Covid-19 in December 2022, exceeding the previous monthly high of 7,329 logged in August 2022. On January 14, the daily death toll was 503 – a record high.


At least 12 prefectures have posted record-high cases, while nine have had record-high numbers of deaths. But the true picture of the situation is not known as infected Japanese recovering at home are not recorded as official cases. To make matters worse, the most immune-evasive variant – the “XBB.1.5 variant” – has also been detected in Japan.


The XBB variant, originated in the U.S., was first detected in New York and Connecticut in late October 2022. Meaning the actual situation could be far more serious than announced by the Japanese government and the media. Toho University Professor Tateda Kazuhiro, who sits on the government’s Covid-19 advisory board, has warned that cases could rise later this month to as high as 450,000 per day.

Coronavirus - Covid-19 Omicron XBB Variant

In an interview, Dr. Kobayashi, head of the Sakura General Hospital in the town of Oguchi, Aichi Prefecture, said the official prefectural hospital bed occupancy rate of 70% should be taken with a pinch of salt. He said – “We’re actually at 95% or more. No mistake about it. We’re on the eve of collapse. If this wave continues for much longer, we’re in a state where collapse is going to be imminent.”


While government officials have tried to downplay the recent surge, media like Japan Times admits that the constantly mutating and highly transmissible Omicron variant is infecting far more people than what government data shows. The discrepancy between official data and how the country’s 8th Covid-19 wave wrecks havoc has undermined the government’s credibility.


Complicating matters was the restriction of the free availability of the more reliable PCR tests as part of the government’s process to dismantle necessary public health measures. People showing symptoms can get tested while those who are asymptomatic and have not been referred by a doctor “must pay” for a test or are simply unable to access one at all.

Coronavirus - Japan Covid-19 Test

Because many people have stopped reporting their cases to health authorities since around the peak of the seventh wave, when the government encourages self-testing for Covid-19 and recuperation at home if they develop mild symptoms, the government essentially lost access to real-time infection trends. Meaning the real infections and deaths are definitely higher.


This lends credence to suspicions as early as a year ago in December 2021 that under-reporting was the “X factor” why Japan’s “unbelievable” number of cases and fatalities were a small fraction of the U.S. and many Western countries. It could be a deliberate move by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to “hide deaths” and to release pressure from overwhelming hospitals.


But it still could not explain the high death rate due to Covid-19 because a whopping 83.2% of its people had received at least 1 dose of vaccine. And it certainly raises eyebrows because the vaccination rate among Japanese over 65 with third, fourth, and fifth jab are 91%, 82.5%, and 56% respectively. The most puzzling mystery – each wave has been noticeably higher than the last.

 Coronavirus - Japan Covid-19 Vaccine - People Over 60 Years Old

Exactly how could more people die as vaccination rate increases in each new wave? Japan has procured mind-boggling 882 million doses, mostly premium vaccines Pfizer and Moderna. As of January 13, 2023, it has administered over 374 million shots, leaving 500 million doses unused. What does Dr Satoshi Kamayachi, director of the Japan Medical Association, have to say about the rise of deaths?


He said – “There’s a lot we don’t know, and we don’t have evidence.” But he did say that the majority of those who died were over 60 and many had underlying medical conditions. Although Dr Kamayachi insists the direct cause of death is often heart failure or kidney disease, interestingly though, he admitted that “a thorough analysis is needed.”


The Japanese Health Ministry data shows that of the 5,224 people who died from Covid-19 in four weeks through last Tuesday, 97.3% were those in their 60s and older. But not all of the deaths have resulted directly from Covid-19, with complications related to other diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and pneumonia. Meaning the vaccines were not entirely effective.

Coronavirus - Omicron Variant

It appears to be an admission that the vaccines could – directly or indirectly – cause cardiovascular problem. On one hand, he was suggesting kidney disease clashes with a side effect of Remdesivir (Japan-approved Covid treatment), but did not have proof. On the other hand, he was suggesting the vaccines should not be given to people with medical conditions, but had no other choice.


Yet, at the same time, Japan is imposing restrictions on travelers from mainland China, demanding a negative PCR test upon arrival. But such measure obviously has nothing to do with stopping the spread of Omicron variant from China because the death toll has already spiked in Japan in the last eight waves. It’s a good tactic to put the blame on the Chinese though.


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