COVID-19 Research at Hokkaido University

©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   April 15, 2022