– English

The world is currently facing an unprecedented threat from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As of June 15, 2020, 8.0 million people have been infected worldwide, more than 430,000 people have lost their lives, and no one is certain of how the situation will develop. If we hope to overcome humanity’s newest foe, the world must unite to unravel and understand how it works in scientific terms. The urgent issues we now face are how to use these findings to provide accurate diagnoses, predict severity, and develop effective treatments and vaccines. A joint research Coronavirus Task Force has been established by Keio University, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Osaka University, The Institute of Medical Science at The University of Tokyo, the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kitasato University, and Kyoto University. This task force comprises experts from diverse fields, including infectious diseases, virology, molecular genetics, genomic medicine, and computational science. One of the biggest threats posed by the novel coronavirus disease is that many patients with severe symptoms become critically ill within a short period of time. And saving these patients’ lives requires the allocation of vast medical resources. The task force will use state-of-the-art genomic analysis technology to reveal the genetic basis for the mechanism that causes exacerbation of COVID-19 and will work to develop an effective mucosal vaccine to protect against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Specifically, the task force will focus on the fact that the number of COVID-19 deaths per capita among Japanese people is far fewer than those in Western countries. By comparing severe and mild/asymptomatic cases among Japanese people, the task force will search for genetic susceptibilities unique to Japanese people associated with exacerbation of COVID-19. Based on findings obtained in this way, the task force aims to develop an effective mucosal vaccine built upon proprietary technologies as well as to provide predictive modeling for COVID-19 treatment. This research is supported by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development.