TOKYO – A lasting mystery about the Covid-19 pandemic is why East Asian countries around the world have experienced far fewer cases and deaths than the United States and Europe.
Some doctors and scientists are beginning to look more closely at theories that some people in East Asia and Southeast Asia have had different exposures to previous coronaviruses that resemble the worldwide SARS-KOV-2 virus. Such exposure could protect them from Covid-19 disease or reduce the severity of the disease.
Others suspect that the immune system of people in the region differs from people in the rest of the world in any systematic way. They suspect cultural factors and, in some countries, government policies, such as strict quarantines, play a major role.
Regardless of the case, doctors agree that an explanation is needed as to why Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore experienced up to several thousand new SARS-KOV-2 infections a day, even during the current wave. That compares with tens of thousands of daily cases in many European nations and more with 150,000 new cases of many days in the United States.
Yasuhiro Suzuki considered the issue as the top doctor in the medical corps of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs until his retirement in August.