Some people are raking in the dough.” An active doctor reveals the underbelly of the Corona bubble. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Some people are raking in the dough.” An active doctor reveals the underbelly of the Corona bubble.

An urgent anonymous roundtable discussion: While the collapse of medical care is being called for, there are many who are making a killing ......

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Over 10,000 yen per hour!

Two years after the emergence of the new coronavirus, humanity’s arsenal has been narrowed down to three weapons: tests, vaccines, and therapeutic agents. The entire country has been promoting vaccinations, and as of February 15, the number of vaccinations had reached 214,571,982. As of February 15, 214,571,982 doses had been administered.

However, it is said that there are people who have taken advantage of the crisis to make a lot of money from this corona disaster. The people who are being singled out are the medical profession.

In this interview, three doctors talk about the underworld of corona medicine.

Doctor A: “I have an idea of what is being criticized. It’s a part-time job for vaccination, right? I think the going rate is about 100,000 yen for six to eight hours of work.”

FRIDAY obtained a recruitment email for the “part-time job of inoculation questionnaire” as of February 14.

The conditions are as follows.

Working hours: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (1 hour break), actual working hours: 5 to 8 hours

Salary: 100,000 to 140,000 yen per day

The salary is 100,000 yen to 140,000 yen per day. 2 days per week is a minimum, and the transportation fee is 3,000 yen per day.

Doctor B: “Nurses are also being recruited, and I heard that there was an unbelievable offer of 20,000 yen for two hours.

Doctor C: “This is a serious problem. It’s becoming difficult to secure part-time workers for regular clinics because people are being drawn away by the vaccination work. ……”

B “Compared to regular clinics and duty work, vaccination work is much easier. All you have to do is ask questions and give muscle injections. There’s nothing technically difficult about it.

C: “However, only young doctors and nurses who can afford the time to participate in mass vaccinations will be able to benefit from this. If a general practitioner like me who runs a clinic were to administer vaccines while providing other medical services at my clinic, it would only increase my workload and make me busier. You can’t do enough and you won’t make much profit. The same is true for working doctors. Even if they give vaccines during their working hours, the hospital receives subsidies for their regular work. Clinics like ours, which administered the vaccine on a small scale, were probably doing it out of a desire to ‘bring the coronas under control as quickly as possible’ rather than to make a profit.

A “Exactly!

B “The amount varies depending on the local government and the medical association to which you belong, but in the area where I work, if you get more than 100 doses a week, the cost is 200 yen per dose. B: “Exactly! In the area where I work, the subsidy is 20,000 yen per dose if you get more than 100 doses per week, and 3,000 yen if you get more than 150 doses per week. In private clinics, there are often only one or two doctors and a few nurses. They can’t handle this number of vaccinations while providing regular medical services.

A “That’s why there were some clinics that had a team of part-timers dedicated to vaccination, separate from the regular clinics, and had them do a lot of vaccinations.

C “They were laughed at, saying, ‘That’s outrageous. C “They laughed at us and said, ‘That’s ridiculous. It depends on how the manager thinks.

B “There was a TV show about a doctor who sat on a chair with wheels and gave vaccinations one after another while moving around.

A “It’s a simple calculation: 240,000 yen per hour (laughs). (laughs) I’m a member of a medical association, and sometimes I get a job as a mass inoculator sponsored by the medical association, but it’s terrible! The big old men of the medical association also come on duty, but they say, ‘We’ll leave it to the young doctors. I’ll leave it to the young doctors, so go ahead and do it! He doesn’t do his job! The grandfathers would make small talk with each other and get 100,000 yen. I was thinking to myself, ‘Really? I’ll do my best!” ……

B “I know what you mean~ (laughs)”

C “The ones who are making a lot of money from vaccines are the major clinics that are in charge of vaccinations at workplaces. The vaccinations are given to companies with 1,000 or more employees, and the unit price is 207 yen per vaccination. The unit price is 207 yen per vaccination. If it is done after hours, 730 yen is added to the cost, and if it is done on holidays, 2130 yen is added.

Negative certificates are at the doctor’s price

B “Speaking of the corona bubble, isn’t the PCR test more important than the vaccine?

A & C “Definitely.

B “The clinics that have been focusing on PCR testing since the beginning of the spread of the infection in 2008 are the ones that have built the ‘PCR palace. B “The clinics that have been focusing on PCR testing since the beginning of the spread of infection in ’20 have their own ‘PCR palace’.

C “In Hokkaido, Osaka, Saitama, and other areas, subsidies to purchase PCR testing equipment were as high as 100,000 yen. C “In Hokkaido, Osaka, Saitama and other areas, there were subsidies of 1,000,000 yen to purchase PCR test equipment. The clinics specializing in PCR tests are making huge profits.

A “Indeed!

B “In the beginning, the market price for a PCR test at one’s own expense was about 20,000 to 30,000 yen. However, that clinic with its flashy commercials developed a system that allows testing by mail at half the price, and rapidly expanded its market share. Normally, it would be dangerous to send samples of saliva, etc., which may be infected, by mail, but I have to admit that the company’s efforts to establish a kit that can be safely sent by mail is very impressive.

A “PCR test centers are even cheaper at about 3,000 yen. A “The PCR test center is even cheaper at about 3,000 yen, but if you test positive, you have to go to a medical institution for another test and diagnosis. A “PCR test centers are even cheaper at about 3,000 yen, but if you test positive, you have to go to a medical institution for another test and diagnosis. If you are a businessman who needs a negative certificate in a hurry, such as on a business trip, you should pay an express fee of 10,000 to 20,000 yen at the counter to have a negative certificate issued.

You have cleverly exploited the psychology of that situation. A negative certificate is treated in the same way as a medical certificate. The market price is about 3,000 yen, but the clinic’s price is OK; it depends on the doctor’s conscience.

C “There has been a lot of talk among us doctors about how much money the PCR test clinics are making. I’m sure they are making 500 or 600 million yen. Because they can spend a lot of money on advertising, they are able to use high-priced celebrities in their commercials.

A: “I don’t think doctors who really think about their patients would think about making a profit from PCR tests. My clinic has an outpatient fever clinic, but the PCR test is just a bonus. The samples for the test are hard to come by, so we often outsource the test itself.

C “The insurance points for PCR tests at my clinic have been reduced to almost half the price since January this year. The local government has also started a free PCR test program, so asymptomatic people can take the PCR test for free. The PCR test bubble will probably end soon.

B: “The spread of the Omicron strain was two to three times faster than that of the Delta strain, so there were quite a few people who were surprised and took the PCR test. The Omicron strain peaked in the first week of February. However, the peak of infection with the Omicron strain was in the first week of February, and the government knew that it would start to decline after that. In fact, that is what has been happening. Looking at the number of infected people, the PCR bubble is coming to an end.

C “Even if the PCR test is negative, there are patients whose corona symptoms do not go away. At this time of year, there are many people who have the flu, and there is also the possibility of other diseases. I think it is important for doctors to examine such patients thoroughly.

Harmful effects of the “drop to category 5” theory

A “Recently, there has been a lot of talk on news programs about ‘dropping it from the current category 2 infectious disease to category 5, the same as influenza,’ but don’t you think this is premature?

B: “Dropping it to category 5 will certainly reduce the burden on the public health center, as there will be no need to recommend hospitalization or track down infected people. However, if a mutated strain that causes severe symptoms appears in the future, we won’t be able to easily change it back to class 2. In addition, if the disease is dropped to Category 5, the tests and medicines that were covered by public funds will be covered by insurance, and patients will have to pay for them. Since the price will never be lower, this will have the adverse effect of increasing the number of people who do not visit the doctor even if they have corona. It is not in the best interest of the people to make it a category 5 disease right now.

C: “It is true that when the infection first spread in 2008, it was not expected that a mutant strain as powerful as the delta strain would appear. We cannot be sure that no new mutant strains will emerge in the future. An oral treatment for the new coronas has been approved, but at this point, it cannot be prescribed to all people who test positive, as is the case with influenza treatments; I think we should establish a supply system for the treatment before dropping it to category 5.”

B “It’s not easy to get ivermectin approved either. There are quite a few patients who are taking it, though. I guess there are doctors who prescribe it as a free treatment.”

A “Ivermectin will not be approved in the future. A “Ivermectin will not be approved in the future, because the same pharmaceutical company that manufactures ivermectin also manufactures morunupiravir, an oral treatment for new coronas. If the lower-priced ivermectin is approved, the company will not be able to make as much money.

C “In terms of pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer is the sole winner in vaccines. Pfizer is the one at the top of the corona bubble. Vaccine prices are not disclosed to the public. I wonder how much the government is paying Pfizer.

A “When Taro Kono, the minister in charge of vaccines, called Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bora, he was told, ‘Don’t call anyone but the prime minister. If you want to negotiate, come directly to me.’ He called the prime minister of a country. Pfizer’s power is amazing.

B “Up until the second vaccination, the supply ratio between Pfizer and Moderna was 5:5, but for the third vaccination, it was 3:7. Since Pfizer is the only vaccine for children, more adults will inevitably get the Moderna. It looks like they’re going to make the vaccine available to all the people. ……”

C “Following Merck’s lead, Pfizer’s oral drug Pakilovid was approved for emergency use in the U.S. and received special approval in Japan. Pfizer’s power will become stronger and stronger.”

A & B: “So Pfizer is the emperor of the corona bubble. ……”

Dr. A is in his 40s. He has been running a private clinic in the Kanto area for five years, and is also conducting PCR tests.
Dr. B is in his thirties and has successfully opened five affiliated clinics in the Kanto area in the past ten years.
Dr. C lives in Tokyo. There are days when we are so inundated with people wanting to be vaccinated that we don’t have time to take off our protective gear.
Booster vaccinations often use vaccines from Moderna due to a shortage of Pfizer vaccines.
Mori Building conducted a vaccination program at Toranomon Hills, Roppongi Hills, and ARK Hills, targeting about 100,000 people in the workplace.
The spread of the Omicron strain has led to a surge in the number of anxious people wanting to be tested, with long lines forming in front of PCR testing centers.

From the March 4, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO AFP/Afro (Mori Building)

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