Japan tumbles in COVID recovery ranking as infections surge

Nikkei -- Aug 07
Japan plunged 60 places to 90th in the latest edition of Nikkei's COVID-19 Recovery Index, as the omicron subvariant known as BA.5 has saddled the country with more daily cases than anywhere else.

South Korea, which is also seeing a jump in infections, slipped to 13th from fourth. Elsewhere in the region, Cambodia and Vietnam continued to rank high, in second place and fourth, respectively. Taiwan rose 33 spots, with cases and deaths falling gradually.

The index assesses countries and regions on infection management, vaccine rollouts and social mobility. The higher the ranking, the closer an area is to recovery, characterized by lower infection and death rates and better inoculation coverage, as well as fewer movement restrictions.

Worldwide, Japan, the U.S. and South Korea reported the most cases in the last week of July, according to the World Health Organization. Japan saw 1.38 million infections, a 42% increase from the previous week, while South Korea logged more than 560,000, up 25%. The East Asian neighbors' combined case count made up 30% of the global total.

In Japan, government experts have attributed the latest wave to the highly contagious yet less deadly BA.5 subvariant. Over 63% of Japanese have been triple vaccinated and 30% of those aged 60 or above have received a fourth shot. But BA.5 is reported to be better at evading protection from vaccines and previous infections than its predecessors.

BA.5 is now the dominant coronavirus strain worldwide, with a prevalence rate of 69.6% out of sequences submitted to genomic database GISAID during the week of July 17-23, according to the WHO. ...continue reading

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