Japan’s fifth wave of COVID-19 has virtually disappeared so dramatically that some scientists are puzzled as to why it happened. One team suggests that the highly infectious Delta strain mutated into extinction on the island nation.
Back in mid-August, Japan experienced a peak in COVID-19 infections recording over 23,000 new cases per day. Now the metric is just around 170 with deaths attributed to the disease mostly remaining in single digits this month. The decline was attributed by many to high vaccination rates, public acceptance of masks and other factors. However, some researchers stated that the drop was uniquely significant compared to other nations with similar conditions.
Ituro Inoue, a geneticist at the National Institute of Genetics, believes that Japan had the good fortune of witnessing the Delta strain mostly rooting out other variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus before eradicating itself. For some time now, Inoue and his fellow scientists were researching mutations of SARS-CoV-2 and how they are affected by the protein nsp14 which is crucial for the reproduction of the virus.