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Japan gov't analysis of delta threat more optimistic than experts: top virus adviser

Shigeru Omi, head of the government's coronavirus countermeasures subcommittee, is seen in this December 2020 file photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Hiroyuki Harada)

TOKYO -- The government's analysis of the coronavirus delta variant has been called more optimistic than the view shared by experts, according to remarks made on Aug. 25 by the head of its coronavirus countermeasures subcommittee.

    Shigeru Omi, chairman of the government's subcommittee, aired the view at a House of Representatives Health, Labor and Welfare Committee meeting held during the Diet recess. He said regarding the delta variant currently pressuring the health care system, "Perhaps the analysis of the situation (by the government) was at times somewhat more optimistic than the analysis among us experts."

    He also said: "School is starting again soon, meaning further spread of infections and pressure on the health service is possible." Regarding the situation in the future, his analysis was that "while the speed of infections is slowing in Tokyo, it's premature to be saying when it will pass its peak." He added, "I think the pressure on health care and the number of infected people will for now continue to be quite a serious situation."

    Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Norihisa Tamura clarified that "antibody cocktail" treatment methods for COVID-19 patients are expected to be approved for provision to outpatients, too. At present, to ensure safe use of the antibody cocktail treatment, it is only approved for administration to inpatients at medical institutions and other recovery accommodation facilities who can be observed for a specified period of time.

    But with surging infections, more and more COVID-19 patients are recovering at home, and Tamura announced that "we are working quickly to ensure outpatients can also use it."

    (Japanese original by Sooryeon Kim, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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