In July 2020, the National Center for Global Medicine (NCGM), in collaboration with SoftBank, inaugurated an extensive PCR testing facility on the NCGM campus. This endeavor aimed to enhance safety and security within workplace environments by facilitating regular screening tests for office personnel, thereby enabling the early diagnosis of COVID-19 infections. Furthermore, the center played a pivotal role in providing pre-boarding screening tests to ferry passengers, a critical measure to prevent the spread of the virus to remote islands with relatively fragile medical infrastructures.
As of its closure in October 2023, the center had conducted a remarkable total of 6,927,454 tests, leading to the identification of 24,553 COVID-19 infections. A notable feature of this operation was the application of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to all positive samples, which aided in identifying various virus strains. Intriguingly, a considerable number of infections identified were asymptomatic, providing a unique and invaluable dataset for epidemiological studies.
In the forthcoming lecture, I will delineate some critical findings and analyses from this extensive and unique dataset. These insights are expected to contribute significantly to understanding COVID-19 transmission dynamics and underscore the vital role of comprehensive testing strategies in the management and containment of the pandemic.
Dr. Wataru Sugiura, an alumnus of Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, class of 1985, began his career as a pulmonary medicine doctor, a role he dedicated himself to for nearly a decade.
His journey in research commenced in 1994 when he joined Dr. Bernard Moss’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow, contributing significantly to the HIV subunit vaccine project.
In 1997, he advanced to a leadership position as a group leader at the AIDS Research Center/NIID, where he has been at the forefront of HIV drug resistance and antiviral development research.
As a director of the Center for Clinical Sciences, Sugiura continues to pioneer the field, having established a clinical research network in Japan and aiming to manage the progress of drug and vaccine development studies efficiently and quickly.