The Japanese government recently announced that the coronavirus will be categorized as a common infectious disease on May 8, 2023. As a result, patients diagnosed with the communicable disease will have to cover medical expenses on their own.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Japan’s government instituted a special response that limited the number of medical institutions that could handle COVID-19 patients. The upcoming reclassification will classify the coronavirus as a class 5 disease similar to conditions such as seasonal influenza. At the moment, Japan currently classifies COVID-19 as part of a special category that is equal to or stricter than class 2, which includes infectious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and tuberculosis.
The government will seek to raise the number of medical institutions that can offer outpatient treatment for COVID-19 patients by 50%. It will also keep subsidizing the expensive drugs used to fight coronavirus infection until the end of September 2023. Molnupiravir, for instance, which can cost up to 100,000 yen per outpatient ($743), will be subsidized by the government while patients will have to dig into their pockets to pay for general treatments such as tests and antipyretics.
Medical institutions currently aren’t charging coronavirus patients for hospitalization or outpatient care. Once the coronavirus is reclassified, patients will have to cover these costs out-of-pocket, but they will be aided by a coverage policy that caps their treatment payments each month.
Speaking at a press conference, Katsunobu Kato, the country’s health, labor and welfare minister, said that the country is shifting from a special response that limited the number of institutions that could treat the coronavirus to a normal response by a greater number of health institutions. The government aims to increase the number of health institutions taking in fever outpatients from 42,000 to 64,000 by leveraging pediatric and internal medicine departments involved in seasonal influenza treatment.
Patients with severe cases will be referred to one of 5,000 institutions that have previous experience treating coronavirus patients. There are future plans to increase the number of these institutions to around 8,000.
Although we are a long way from the pandemic and global lockdowns of 2020, the coronavirus is still infecting people across the world every day. In fact, January 2023 represented the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Japan since the pandemic began, showing that even though the days of mass infections may be gone, COVID-19 is still a threat that has to be taken seriously.
The country’s national government will handle the coordination of COVID-19 hospitalizations in medical institutions with the aid of prefectural governments.
The case burden of infectious diseases is increasing around the world, and this creates some kind of urgency for the new treatments that are being developed by biotech firms such as BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) in order to reduce the human and economic toll of these diseases.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/BVXV
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