English abstract

Successful loose restrictions in Japan and consideration of COVID-19 measures

The Japanese are well-known for upholding virtues, such as humility, modesty, and self-improvement, and observing the culture of Bushido. Therefore, several local opinions lean toward the belief that the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) measures are insufficient, to which I disagree. I believe that the Japanese loose measures are nearly perfect from a global point of view.

The majority of forecasts and considerations I provided in this column since last year have proved accurate. For example, I opined that the media offers more harm than benefit, as it tends to arouse excessive anxiety among people, which renders them less capable of confronting difficulties. Indeed, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has supported this view.

My perspective is that the success of COVID-19 measures in Japan can be attributed to the integration of three conditions.

The first is that the insurance medical system has been established and supplied to all citizens, such that extensive support during the health crisis was possible. The insurance also covers vaccination from infants to the elderly and advanced medical equipment and remedies.

Healthcare knowledge in the country is optimized. A high level of education leads to the understanding of the concept of viral infection, thus realizing the need for masks to prevent the spread of the virus via oral droplets.

The second is that Japan adheres to high standards of cleanliness. As such, sustaining forward-looking measures for epidemic control is considered a tradition. Urban designs for sewerage and extermination of pests, such as rats and mosquitoes, are constantly maintained. The Japanese practice cleanliness and personal hygiene, such as taking off shoes upon entering a room, showering on a daily basis, and handwashing and gargling upon arriving home, as habits even before the pandemic. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the key to the comprehensive power of health.

The third constitutes my personal opinion. The Japanese can benefit from acquired immunity through exposure to seasonal coronaviruses and effective implementation of pediatric vaccines and pneumococcal vaccines for the elderly through public assistance.

Based on the experience of India, lockdown measures and strong national control through police power are unsuitable solutions. Moreover, isolation policies were unable to prevent clusters of mutant viruses in Australia.

Facts deduced from these experiences and the characteristics of the new coronavirus can be summarized into three points.

1. Mankind cannot completely contain the sporadic spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
2. Damage due to COVID-19 is dependent on the medical system of a country in terms of maintenance and awareness of the status of its national healthcare system.
3. Acquired immunity formed by seasonal coronaviruses and vaccines affects.

Acquiring herd immunity while minimizing damage is a better strategy than implementing containment with loose measures. Scholars predict that SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will accelerate herd immunity.

Lastly, the Japanese concept of hygiene and long-term maintenance of its medical system warrant evaluation at the international level.

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