COVID-19 infection in Tokyo, Japan, produced a negligible fatality rate in spite of it being widely spread across the general population. This occurred without a lockdown and without dictatorial restrictive measures. Japan’s dietary habits, which include large amounts of green tea catechins, and the resulting lowest cardiovascular mortality rate in the world, are the factors that explain the low COVID-19 fatality rate. Dr. Jack Masquelier clarifies the relationship between green tea, red wine, OPCs and cardiovascular mortality.
Table of contents
- COVID-19 fatality rate negligible in Tokyo
- Producing antibodies naturally
- Very low fatality rate
- The vascular system and cardiovascular mortality
- Cardiovascular Mortality rates
- The French Paradox
- Dr. Masquelier provides the answer
- Green tea, catechins and OPCs
- The Mediterranean and Japanese diets
- COVID-19, vascular health, catechins and OPCs
COVID-19 fatality rate negligible in Tokyo
Fatality rates related to COVID-19 in Japan have been low compared to Western Countries and have decreased despite the absence of lockdown. Yes, indeed ! Fatality rates related to COVID-19 in Japan have been low compared to Western Countries and have decreased despite the absence of lockdown. Yes. Just like Sweden, Japan never insituted a mandatory lockdown. Businesses, restaurants, and transportation were kept open, and public life continued relatively unabated. Meaning unabated ! And yet, these countries are doing better than those that suffocated and still suffocate under lockdown measures and all sorts of arbitrary restrictions that are killing small businesses and normal social life. In Japan, just as in Sweden, the COVID-19 “waves” subsided on their own.
Producing antibodies naturally
Japanese researchers conducted a study to investigate the number of people who had developed antibodies [immunity] against COVID-19. ([I]) They did this by testing the blood-serum of 615 healthy volunteers working in various locations in Tokyo. When this serological test shows “seropositivity,” this is an indication that the tested person has naturallydeveloped antibodies which can be detected in the blood-serum. “Naturally” meaning without having been vaccinated ! The percentage of seropositivity in the study’s participants increased from 5.8 % to 46.8 % over the course of the summer. This significant increase in antibodies occurred in late June and early July, paralleling the rise in daily confirmed cases within Tokyo.
Very low fatality rate
The conclusion of the Japanese researchers is that COVID-19 infection may have spread widely across the general population of Tokyo without producing a worrying fatality rate. Much like the group of people who participated in the study, clinical severity in Tokyo was low to negligible. Matching the rise in people who developed antibodies nearing 50% with the time when COVID-19 cases waned, the possibility of herd immunity should be considered, particularly in a highly-dense urban setting like Tokyo.
During the second surge, only 31 fatal cases (observed between June 22 and August 25) were reported in Tokyo, while the first surge (March 20 to May 20) claimed 244 lives. Assuming an infection rate of 40 % within theTokyo urban population (14 million), the infection fatality rate (IFR) during this period could potentially be as low as 0.0006%, which is as low as the lowest infection fatality rate observed among teens in Switzerland. The researchers suggest that the remarkably low mortality related to COVID-19 should be throughly examined, for instance by evaluating Japanese lifestyle and dietary habits.
The vascular system and cardiovascular mortality
In previous articles, I explained why it is that the vascular system is the ideal playground for viruses such as COVID-19. Briefly put, most of the complications arise in the vascular system, especially at its “micro” level where we find the capillaries (hair-vessels) and where the thin layer of endothelial cells organizes and controls the delicate exchange between blood and tissues and vice versa between tissues and blood. Now, consider that of all the countries in the world Japan ranks lowest in cardiovascular mortality rate. Differently put, the Japanese outclass all other nations in terms of cardiovasculat health. Japan even outranks France, which is known for its French Paradox, the curious phenomenon that even though the French consume relatively high amounts of fat, they rank very low in cardiovascular mortality.
Cardiovascular Mortality rates
Here are the figures per 100.000 inhabitants:
* France went from 192.73 in 1990 to 86.06 in 2017, which is an improvement of 55%.
* Japan went from 183.72 in 1990 to 79.37 in 2017, which is an improvement of 57%.
Both countries improved their cardiovascular mortality rates, but Japan stayed in the lead, in terms of the rate as well as in terms of the improvement. Now, consider that another Asian Pacific country also scored better than France, though not as good as Japan. South Korea went from 369.89 in 1990 to 86.00 in 2017, which is an improvement of no less than 77%. The group called “High-income Asia Pacific” also did well, ranking between Korea and Japan with 208.34 deaths per 100.000 inhabitants in 1990 to 79.62 in 2017, an improvement of 62%. ([ii])
The French Paradox
France’s low cardiovascular mortality rate is called the French Paradox. It is regarded as a paradox because when you look at the average dinner table fare in France, you would not expect the French to score so well. Sausages, butter, foie gras, ham, bacon, paté, mayonnaise, meat, cheese, sweetbread, eggs, and fried potatoes are common savory elements in the French diet. The fact that they score high in cardiovascular health is commonly attributed to the fact that the French consume large amounts of OPCs and OPCs’ building blocks: the catechins. They ingest OPCs and catechins for the major part in the form of red wine, which is still today one of France’s popular “table drinks,” and which is why the French are quite fond of their beloved Paradox.
Dr. Masquelier provides the answer
But, how can Japan and other Asia-Pacific regions rank ahead of France when so little wine is consumed in the Land of the Rising Sun ? Is it the sushi or the sashimi ? Is there some Japanese “paradox” that might overturn the French one ? Years ago, I put this question to Dr. Jack Masquelier, who remains, of course, the most renowned champion of the French Paradox. When the discoverer of OPCs looked at the Japanese cardiovascular score, the simplicity and obviousness of the answer sprang to his mind right away. “Which food common in Japan,” he asked himself, “also presents a protective effect on the heart?” The answer came right away: tea ! To be more specific, green tea, which is consumed in Japan in quantities equal to those at which the French consume wine.
Green tea, catechins and OPCs
Masquelier’s hunch was based on the fact that green tea contains catechins, the building blocks of the catechin-clusters called OPCs. The vine (Vitis vinifera) and the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) both produce catechins, but of the two plants only the vine is able to combine the catechins into clusters of catechins. For this reason, tea does not contain proanthocyanidins. In other words, tea does not contain OPCs. Tea contains only catechins. In grape seeds and in red wine, however, we find catechins and OPCs, which makes catechin the ingredient that red wine and green tea have in common. Although not as strong as OPCs, catechins do exert a protective antioxidant function.
Green tea owes its antioxidant effect to its catechin content. It didn’t take Masquelier very long to figure out that the catechins in Japan’s and East Asia’s most popular drink are responsible for the favorable cardiovascular condition of their population. Yet, you may wonder, “When catechins are weaker than OPCs, how is it that the Japanese score so immensely high in cardiovascular health?” To answer this question, let’s see if the Japanese miracle is also a paradox or just the result of an overall healthy diet.
The Mediterranean and Japanese diets
Surely, in the southern parts of France, people eat what is called the Mediterranean diet, which is known for its fresh salads, vegetable oils, spare amount of meat and lots of fish. Many French people do take good care of their health, but statistically speaking, the French are saved by their elegant paradox that permits them to overcome the consequences of eating what many of them like so much. In this way, the French paradox stops being paradox where the Mediterranean diet fills the tables. Likewise, there is no paradox in Japan in that the consumption of catechins would have to compensate an unhealthy diet. In the traditional Japanese diet, there isn’t much to compensate for. The Japanese tables are filled with fish and seafood, both containing lots of omega-3 fatty acids, rice, and raw vegetables. Under such favorable dietary conditions, the catechins, although weaker than OPCs, are capable of tipping an already favorably balanced scale.
COVID-19, vascular health, catechins and OPCs
Now, combine the following facts. 1) The COVID-19 infection fatality rate in Japan was as low as 0.0006%, meaning that only 0.0006% of the COVID-infected people died and that the major part of this percentage may not even be attributed to COVID-19, but to co-morbidities. 2) Of all the countries in the world, Japan ranks lowest in cardiovascular mortality. 3) The vascular system is the ideal playground of COVID-19. 4) Dietary habits are the major factor that causes Japan to score lowest in cardiovascular mortality. 5) What France and Japan have in common in terms of their low cardiovascular mortality scores is the catechins found in red wine and green tea. 6) Dr. Masquelier’s Vitis vinifera compound contains some 25% of catechins and some 50 to 60% of OPCs, which, working together, form an invincible “team” that supports cardiovascular health. 7) Strengthening and supporting your cardiovascular system with Masquelier’s OPCs will make it less of a playground for COVID-19.
[I] Dynamic Change of COVID-19 Seroprevalence among Asymptomatic Population in Tokyo during the Second Wave. Sawako Hibino MD Ph.D., Kazutaka Hayashida MD Ph.D., Andrew C, Ahn, MD, MPH,Yasutaka Hayashida MD Ph.D; medRxiv / BMJ / Yale; September 23, 2020.
[ii] Our World in Data