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Can't wait for a jab? Black market COVID vaccines available, at a price

21 Comments

Japan, as is well known, has really been dragging its feet when it comes to rolling out vaccinations for COVID-19. At the start of the Golden Week holidays, April 29, the percentage of the population that had received vaccinations was about 2% -- the lowest of all advanced economies. 

But for those willing to spend the money on the black market, reports Friday (May 21), jabs are available, and have been since last January. 

"Presently, four types of vaccines have been approved in China, including the one from Sinopharm and three others," says Kazumi Murakami, a medical journalist. "Large volumes have been exported from China, mainly to Southeast Asia and other developing countries. It's supposed that some of those have wound up in the hands of illegal traders or smugglers." 

The boss of a chain of cabaret clubs in the Tokyo metropolitan area tells the reporter, "To help our workers secure a livelihood, we've been operating the clubs secretly (in violation of the government crackdown), but if an outbreak is traced to one of our clubs, we're done for. While I was searching for a solution, I heard about the 'underground vaccine' from somebody in the same line of business."

The reporter claims to have made contact with a source of Russian vaccine via the chat application in Telegram, and negotiated a deal. 

"Telegram is said to be highly secure from leaks so it's an ideal media," he writes. 

Bulletin board posts use code words for illicit drugs, such as "Hie-hie" for methamphetamines and "Yasai" for marijuana. The writer soon spotted a post that read, "Those desiring Chinese corona vaccine, or who want an injection, mail me directly." 

Posing as a company owner, the writer sent an inquiry and received a reply that a quantity of Sinovac vaccine for 200 people was available for 2 million yen, or 150,000 yen for a single jab. Delivery was promised within one week following receipt of payment. 

The article notes that to bring an unapproved drug into the country, Japanese law requires a certificate for import of medicines and medical devices, and such items cannot be sold without certification. To do so would violate the Act on Securing Quality, Efficacy and Safety of Products Including Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices. Violators face penalties equivalent to those caught smuggling narcotics. 

The writer made contact with a seller who cautiously agreed to supply a sample for verification purposes. 

"You might be a cop, so I won't meet you in person," the seller texted. "After you verify that it's the real thing, please remit the 150,000 yen."

He soon received a syringe containing 0.5ml of a clear liquid. "I sent samples to five laboratories for analysis, but they all refused, claiming they had no facilities for confirming whether or not it was really vaccine." 

He was able to arrange a test for pH; its value showed a low alkalinity of 7.8, supposedly close to the figure for vaccine. The sample was odorless and tested negative for illegal narcotics such as cocaine. 

If the vaccine happens to be phony, the person who receives a jab may be risking their life. 

And needless to say, the best thing the government can do to discourage the circulation of illegal vaccines, is to expedite the vaccination process. 

Journalist Tetsuo Suzuki blamed the vaccine black market -- if it exists -- on Japan's vertically segmented administrative system. 

"The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is responsible for vaccine procurements; the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism oversees the shipping; the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry stores it; and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications interacts with local governments," he explains. "That's a key reason why the rollout has been so slow.

"Prime Minister Suga only took measures to cut through the red tape with the appointment of Taro Kono as minister oversee the vaccinations on January 18," Suzuki added.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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Who would be this stupid?

12 ( +13 / -1 )

American LipBalm is also considered a very very bad drug. Same penalties. US Military and SOFA status civilian workers are told never ever to bring it.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Covyak893 vaccine available at your local "cabaret" club.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Isn't that supposed to be Sinoharm?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I think it would be about the same price to fly to another country to get the vaccine. That is something that everyone should considering doing as there's no way Japan can get the vaccine to general population before 2023.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

If you fly to another country for the shot, and if it is not J and J, then you are going to have to spend a long time there. 2 weeks quarantine, get a shot, wait a month for another shot, get back to Japan and still be quarantined to the tune of at least 2 weeks. Bucks will start to add up for sure.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Even if you would get the ‘real’ vaccine, then in case of those Chinese ones they only work at a rate of 54% or so. So better order a whole truck to get logarithmically near 95% efficacy. (No , of course please don’t, your body can’t stand that much fake salty solutions like NaCl.)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

People are stupid. Even if the vaccine was genuine and effective they will have no proof they were vaccinated.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I can't see the logic.

If asked, is anyone going to fess up to getting their undercarriage serviced at a nookie bar?

Even if the old bill came knocking on the door, 'it wasn't us, guv. All our girls have been vaccinated with illegally imported, unlicensed vaccine' is a terrible defence that will get you into even more trouble.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Regardless of true, fake or uncertified black market vaccines, vaccination is not an individual silver bullet in a pandemic situation.

Mass vaccination to reach heard immunity is the path to (with still all the unknown).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Black market vaccines? From China?

No thanks, I'd rather roll the dice and develop immunity by catching COVID.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

No thanks, I'd rather roll the dice and develop immunity by catching COVID.

That is rolling the dice twice since there is no guaranteed immunity after recovering from Covid.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

 a quantity of Sinovac vaccine for 200 people was available for 2 million yen, or 150,000 yen for a single jab

2 million (two hundred man) divided by 200 is 10,000 (one man).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

He soon received a syringe containing 0.5ml of a clear liquid. "I sent samples to five laboratories for analysis, but they all refused, claiming they had no facilities for confirming whether or not it was really vaccine." 

What is the purpose of buying the supposed vaccine without researching first how to check if it is real or not?

Also, if the vaccine is Sinovac (inactivated virus) it should give a positive result to the usual antigen tests for COVID, this would have been very simple to know if the writer asked any doctor about it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This may be the reason that the Japanese government is stalling the rollout of other vaccines ; they want their cronies to bleed the gullible and desperate dry and squeeze every last Yen from a frightened populace.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Anyone buying this crap is a complete moron!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For that price, would it be cheaper to just fly to South Korea or China?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For that price, would it be cheaper to just fly to South Korea or China?

Neither countries offer vaccines to tourists at the moment. I think once they allow it, it would be prudent to go and get it there. There is zero chance of the general population getting the vaccine this year at Japan's current pace. And next year, Japan will be using the Shionogi vaccine tested on only 200 subjects, it would frankly be safer to travel to another country to get a proper vaccine.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

150,000 yen for the vaccine? Why not use the same money toward a short vacation in one of the American states or territories (like Guam)? Vaccines are available to everyone who wants it, no questions asked. Show up at a pharmacy, get a shot, then go to any pharmacy at the appropriate time for the second shot. It really is that simple.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If not Guam, go to Hawaii or Alaska.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sure, you can always trust the black market to tell the truth and bring you a high quality product. Why not pick up a nice Rolex or a Gucci handbag after you get your vaccine? They are very reasonably priced.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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