The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Medical Care System in Japan: Status Report and Summary of Related Issues

Author Name MASUHARA Hiroaki (Shinshu University) / HOSOYA Kei (Kokugakuin University)
Creation Date/NO. February 2021 21-P-003
Research Project Capital Accumulation and Productivity Growth after the COVID-19 Crisis
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the medical care system in Japan as well as on the Japanese economy. This paper provides an overview of issues related to these two themes. First, using data from the end of August to the end of November 2020, we confirm the infection situation: combining open data on COVID-19, Google's mobility data, and government statistics, we construct daily and weekly prefectural panel data. This paper analyzes the impact of people's mobility on the infection dynamics of COVID-19 and tightness in the supply of acute care (and intensive care) beds due to the growing number of critically ill patients. Second, we examine limitations of the medical care system in Japan. Although intensive care units (ICUs) are not always designed to prevent the spread of infectious disease, cases of severe COVID-19 require treatment in the ICU and create the need for higher than normal nurse staffing numbers. The rapid influx of COVID-19 patients exposed the problem that exists in the different definitions of beds stipulated in the Medical Care Act and in the medical fee system, leading to difficulties in hospital management. Furthermore, the epidemic prevention system established by the Infectious Diseases Act and the Medical Care Plan by each prefecture ended up in the present unexpected situation.