COVID-19 Research at Hokkaido University

Researchers and scholars at Hokkaido University continue to study and conduct research during the pandemic. Resources for researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.

Below is the list of research activities done by Hokkaido University’s researchers and collaborators on COVID-19:

©Masaaki Kitajima

February 21, 2023 — Using sewage to forecast COVID-19 infections
Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

Sifting through sewage for SARS-CoV-2 genetic material could help authorities tailor infection control policies.

International Institute for Zoonosis Control

December 8, 2022 — New COVID-19 drug developed by Shionogi & Co., Ltd. and Hokkaido University approved in Japan
Hirofumi Sawa, International Institute for Zoonosis Control

Akihiko Sato, Shionogi & Co. Ltd

On November 22, 2022, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan approved Shionogi’s Xocova® Tablets 125 mg for the treatment of COVID-19. The development of Xocova was conducted jointly by Shionogi and the International Institute for Zoonosis Control at Hokkaido University.

Ed Us/Unsplash

October 12, 2022 — Time of day might not matter for COVID-19 vaccination
Yujiro Yamanaka, Faculty of Education

A study in Japan finds antibody response to the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine does not vary depending on the time of day when the dose was received.


October 12, 2022 — Development of an automatable highly sensitive method for coronavirus detection in wastewater (COPMAN method)
Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

AdvanSentinel Inc. , Shionogi & Co., Ltd., and Masaaki Kitajima, associate professor at the Faculty of Engineering, Hokkaido University have developed a highly sensitive detection technology for SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater (COPMAN method), in which most of the steps are compatible with automation.

©Kyoko Hida

October 6, 2022 — Mouthwashes may suppress SARS-CoV-2
Kyoko Hida, Faculty of Dental Medicine

Low concentrations of cetylpyridinium chloride, an antimicrobial agent present in mouthwashes, inhibit the infectivity of four variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Patrick Federi/Unsplash

September 29, 2022 — A rapid, highly sensitive method to measure SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater
Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

A simple and economical method of detecting SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in wastewater with high sensitivity has been developed, expanding the use of wastewater-based epidemiology for tracking the virus in populations.

©Eiji Yoshioka, Sharon Hanley

September 13, 2022 — Significant increase in suicide rates in women and younger age groups during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan
Sharon J. B. Hanley, Center for Environmental and Health Sciences

An estimated 1208 excess suicide deaths for men and 1825 for women were recorded during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Japan through December 2021, with the impact being greatest in women and younger age groups.

©Masaaki Kitajima

August 23, 2022 — Wastewater viral loads can provide advance warning of COVID-19 outbreaks
Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

Scientists show that there is a close association between clinical cases of COVID-19 and viral loads in wastewater, with SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in wastewater increasing up to two days before the cases were detected.

©Jun I. Kawahara

June 17, 2022 — Transparent face masks protect while facilitating communication
Jun I. Kawahara, Faculty of Letters

Commercially available transparent face masks allow for the perception of facial expressions while suppressing the dispersion of respiratory droplets that spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and thus have a clear advantage over surgical face masks.

©Masaaki Kitajima

February 3, 2022 — Tracking SARS-CoV-2 during Tokyo 2020 via wastewater
Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

Wastewater-based epidemiological tracking of COVID-19 in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic village showed that SARS-CoV-2 was present in areas without diagnosed individuals.

©Koichi Kobayashi

December 7, 2021 — Revealed: How SARS-CoV-2 evades our immune system
Koichi Kobayashi, Graduate School of Medicine

Hirofumi Sawa, International Institute for Zoonosis Control

Scientists at Hokkaido University and Texas A&M University have identified a key mechanism used by the SARS-CoV-2 virus to evade host immune systems.

©Miki Kamatani

July 22, 2021 — Pandemic changed perceptions of masked faces
Jun I. Kawahara, Faculty of Letters

The Covid-19 pandemic has improved perceptions of facial attractiveness and healthiness of people wearing face masks in Japan.

©Manabu Tokeshi

July 15, 2021 — A rapid method to quantify antibodies against SARS-CoV-2
Manabu Tokeshi, Faculty of Engineering

Scientists have developed a rapid, highly accurate test to detect antibodies against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 in human serum, opening a new avenue for understanding the full extent of the pandemic and evaluating the effectiveness of vaccines.

©Taisho Yamada, Akinori Takaoka

May 21, 2021 — A novel defense mechanism for SARS-CoV-2 discovered
Akinori Takaoka, Institute for Genetic Medicine

Scientists from Hokkaido University have discovered a novel defensive response to SARS-CoV-2 that involves the viral pattern recognition receptor RIG-I. Upregulating expression of this protein could strengthen the immune response in COPD patients.

©Naoki Namba

May 20, 2021 — A rapid antigen test for SARS-CoV-2 in saliva

Isao Yokota and Takanori Teshima, Faculty of Medicine

Scientists from Hokkaido University have shown that an antigen-based test for quantifying SARS-CoV-2 in saliva samples is simple, rapid, and more conducive for mass-screening.


April 14, 2021 — Wastewater surveillance to monitor COVID-19 starts in Osaka Prefecture

Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

On April 15, 2021, Hokkaido University and Shionogi & Co., Ltd. will start to monitor COVID-19 in Osaka Prefecture based on wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), with the cooperation of the Prefectural Government.


April 13, 2021 — A Novel, quick, and easy system for genetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2

Takasuke Fukuhara, Graduate School of Medicine

Researchers from Osaka University and Hokkaido University develop a system for analyzing mutations in SARS-CoV-2 that is much simpler and faster than existing methods.


March 19, 2021 — Establishing an Automated System for the Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater

Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

On March 19, 2021, Hokkaido University, Robotic Biology Institute Inc., iLAC Co., Ltd., and Shionogi & Co., Ltd. have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) toward the establishment of an automated system for the analysis of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in wastewater.


October 12, 2020 — Age does not contribute to COVID-19 susceptibility

Ryosuke Omori, Research Center for Zoonosis Control

Scientists have estimated that the age of an individual does not indicate how likely they are to be infected by SARS-CoV-2. However, development of symptoms, progression of the disease, and mortality are age-dependent.

©Takanori Teshima

September 28, 2020 – COVID-19: Saliva tests could detect the silent carriers

Takanori Teshima, Faculty of Medicine

Testing self-collected saliva samples could offer an easy and effective mass testing approach for detecting asymptomatic COVID-19.


September 24, 2020 – Genetic variation unlikely to influence COVID-19 morbidity and mortality

Ji-Won Lee, Graduate School of Dental Medicine

A comprehensive search of genetic variation databases has revealed no significant differences across populations and ethnic groups in seven genes associated with viral entry of SARS-CoV-2.

©Ryo Otsuka

September 8, 2020 – Cellular-level interactions that lead to the cytokine storm in COVID-19

Ryo Otsuka and Ken-ichiro Seino, Institute for Genetic Medicine

Scientists review macrophage activation syndrome — a feature of the cytokine storm that kills patients with severe cases of COVID-19, as well as possible treatments.


August 28, 2020 – Growth rate of the COVID-19 pandemic may be obscured due to changes in testing rates

Ryosuke Omori, Research Center for Zoonosis Control

Scientists have reviewed reported cases and testing data of COVID-19 and have determined that changes in the testing rate may be masking the true growth rate and extent of the pandemic.

©Masaaki Kitajima & Samendra Sherchan

August 26, 2020 – SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected in untreated wastewater from Louisiana

Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

A group of scientists have detected genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 in untreated wastewater samples collected in April 2020 from two wastewater treatment plants in Louisiana, USA.

©Masaaki Kitajima & Warish Ahmed

August 12, 2020 – A quick, cost-effective method to track the spread of COVID-19 through untreated wastewater

Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

A group of researchers have demonstrated that, from seven methods commonly used to test for viruses in untreated wastewater, an adsorption-extraction technique can most efficiently detect SARS-CoV-2. This gives us another tool to detect the presence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

©Masaaki Kitajima

May 25, 2020 – Using wastewater to monitor COVID-19

Masaaki Kitajima, Faculty of Engineering

Wastewater could be used as a surveillance tool to monitor the invasion, spread and eradication of COVID-19 in communities.

©Manabu Tokeshi

May 22, 2020 – New technology can detect anti-virus antibody in 20 minutes

Manabu Tokeshi, Faculty of Engineering

Researchers have succeeded in detecting anti-avian influenza virus antibody in blood serum within 20 minutes, using a portable analyzer they have developed to conduct rapid on-site bio tests. If a suitable reagent is developed, this technology could be used to detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of COVID-19.


May 20, 2020 – COVID-19 Cytokine storm: Possible mechanism for the deadly respiratory syndrome

Masaaki Murakami, Institute for Genetic Medicine

Research into how the SARS-CoV-2 virus induces death is suggesting potential treatments for its most destructive complications.

Updated on   June 07, 2023