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Japan Nobel laureate says follow Taiwan in coronavirus battle

Honjo Tasuku believes China’s global status is changing and it will take time to find new balance

Japan's Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Honjo Tasuku. (Wikicommons photo)

Japan's Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Honjo Tasuku. (Wikicommons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan's Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Honjo Tasuku said Monday (April 13) the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had proven to be one of the biggest calamities in Japan and the East Asian nation should model itself on Taiwan for preventive strategies.

During an interview with Nikkei News, the 2018 Nobel laureate encouraged Japanese authorities to adopt a more proactive approach. He explained that several countries, including Italy, the U.K., and the U.S., delayed their responses because they placed too much emphasis on the economy rather than containing the spread of the virus.

Honjo pointed out that many countries had been unsuccessful in blocking the spread of the coronavirus because COVID-19 was novel and required a new set of solutions. He referred to the pandemic as "a race to see which country can stop the bleeding first" and said the Japanese government ought to be extra cautious.

Honjo stressed that Taiwan would serve as a great model for Japan to follow. He praised Taiwan's mask rationing system as well as virtual learning platforms and said both could effectively prevent the worsening of Japan's pandemic, reported Storm Media.

When asked about his prediction of what the world will look like once the outbreak ends, Honjo said he believed life would eventually return to normal. However, he said a shift in China's global status was inevitable, which may or may not be beneficial to the world since it would require time for the international community to find a new balance, reported Radio France Internationale.

Currently teaching at Kyoto University, the 78-year-old Honjo received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2018 for developing ways to utilize the immune system more effectively against cancer cells. Sharing the honor with him was fellow researcher James Allison, an American professor at the University of Texas.