Professor Yamanaka of CiRA Calls for "At Least One Year's Patience"Non-Specialist Continues Sharing Information to End Novel Coronavirus
- You have been actively posting information on your website for about a month now. What motivated you to start this?
"As early as late February, the Japanese government began taking countermeasures, such as requesting school closures. In mid-March, however, the streets were becoming crowded with people. Even a close acquaintance of mine planned to hold a large gathering. I thought this would be a serious thing, so I started sharing information."
- How did you perceive the situation at the end of February?
"I thought it was really misleading to say that the coming week or two would be the critical stage. It seems, I think, that the declaration of a state of emergency implies that we should endure for a month. That worries me. Many people appear to believe that just one-month's patience is enough. I am not an expert, but I can say with certainty that it's highly probable that things will not be back to normal in a month. We will have to keep persevering with this. The situation in China and the United States also makes me think so."
- What are the possible cases in which the number of infected people can be curbed?
"There are only three. First is that the coronavirus loses momentum due to temperature or other factors, like a seasonal flu, but this is improbable given its global spread regardless of temperature. If that's the case, there are two left. Either most people get infected so that herd immunity is established, or a vaccine or curative is developed. I don't think it possible to create a vaccine or curative within a year. So we have to accept this situation for at least a year. If you sprint thinking this is a short-distance dash, then you will run out of energy even though the virus is still out there (in society)."
- Expert views are vital in order to prepare, but there are different opinions. For example, some argue that more PCR inspections should be done, whereas other experts say that the current number is sufficient.
"Many say that PCR for those involved in the medical field is inadequate. Hospital-acquired infections have been occurring in various facilities. We are in a new phase. There should be thorough PCR testing in the medical field to determine who can continue to work and which hospital wards should be closed. It is vital to closely examine clusters in hospitals, but it hasn't been done. It is true that there were a variety of opinions before, but it seems that many are gradually reaching agreement now."
-However, it is difficult for ordinary people to keep up with experts' discussion process in real-time.
"I see. That's true."
- How should a non-expert get information, how should they endure for a year?
"That's kind of the very question I want to ask. I'm still in the trial and error stage for sharing information. I don't claim to know the correct answers at all. I also don't know the right pace I should run. But how it begins is important. If we start at a good pace, we can make it."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)