Nationwide genomic analysis to study possible reasons for the low COVID-19 mortality rate in Japan

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TOKYO, Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Japanese researchers have launched the Joint Research Coronavirus Task Force to gather genetic information for predicting severe cases of COVID-19 and developing effective vaccines. 

National Network of Medical Institutions © Keio University
National Network of Medical Institutions © Keio University

The Keio Research Highlights website offers more details about this and other recent research being conducted by researchers at Keio University.


On 21 May, 2020, the Joint Research Coronavirus Task Force was launched in Japan to promote the development of a mucosal vaccine for COVID-19 based on advanced genomic analysis.

“We will analyze 600 blood samples taken from Japanese COVID-19 patients located in approximately 100 hospitals throughout Japan,” explains Takanori Kanai of the Keio University School of Medicine, who leads the task force. “One of the goals of the research is to try to understand why the mortality rate due to COVID-19 has remained significantly lower in Japan than the United States and European countries. We think it may be related to genetic differences. We want to resolve this issue and share our results with our colleagues around the world.”

Background and goals

This research is being undertaken by experts affiliated with Keio University, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Osaka University, the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo, the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kitasato University, and Kyoto University.

“Our research team includes specialists in infectious diseases as well as other fields such as molecular genetics, computational science, and gastroenterology, which is my area of expertise, and is not directly related to epidemiology or infectious diseases,” says Kanai. “This project was conceived by a small group of medical doctors and researchers without experience of handling infectious diseases. But the actual project is interdisciplinary, with