Rich Californians, celebs offering bribes upto $25k to get Covid-19 vaccines even before essential workers
'I think one of the difficult things is for physicians who take care of these high-power people to be able to say, no you have to wait'
Celebrities and other rich people are going to need more than just money to cut line when it comes to Covid-19 vaccines, even as essential workers and nursing home residents in California are going to be prioritized first. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, elite clients are aching to cut the line for Covid vaccines by offering huge sums of money to doctors, but to no avail. These doctors are forced to decline their clientele under the state's vaccine distribution restrictions.
The owner of the Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor, Dr. Ehsan Al's clientele includes the likes of Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, whom he charges between $2,000 to $10,000 a year for personalized healthcare. He shared with LA Times "we get hundreds of calls every single day. This is the first time where I have not been able to get something for my patients."
Meanwhile, in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one such elite patient even tried to bribe a doctor with a $25,000 donation to the hospital which was one of the first to stock the vaccine. “If I donate $25,000 to Cedars, would that help me get in line?” the patient asked Dr Jeff Toll, in charge of administering the vaccine at the hospital. Toll shared with KABC-TV: ”I think one of the difficult things is for physicians who take care of these high-power people to be able to say, no you have to wait. These people don't usually have to wait,” Toll said.
But Dr David Nazarian, of My Concierge MD in Beverly Hills, shared with the outlet that their facility will be sticking to the rules and mandates despite frantic calls from his elite high profile patients. "They wanted it yesterday. We will play by the rules but are doing everything we can to secure and distribute the vaccine when it's available to us,” Nazarian said.
After receiving its first 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, California is scheduled to distribute them first to health care workers and residents at nursing homes. following its first round, the vaccines will be given to essential workers and people with chronic health conditions. Finally, it will be the turn of the general public, wherein the A-list will fit in.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has already asserted health officials “will be very aggressive” in enforcing the mandated order. “To those that think they can get ahead of the line, and those that think because they have resources, or they have relationships that will allow them to do it. We will be monitoring that very, very, closely,” Newsom said.
Experts, however, have already raised concerns about the predetermined order leading to the rise of black market jabs and counterfeit vaccines on the down-low. “If history is a guide, illicit markets for the Covid-19 vaccine are likely to develop to feed people who wish to jump the line or simply profit from trading in a valuable commodity,” Roderick Jones noted in a piece for NBC, adding: "These illicit markets will, in turn, build the necessary motivation for criminal networks to steal and counterfeit the new vaccine. And the arrival of these illicit markets online — offering real or faked Covid vaccines — is as certain as receiving a spam call.”
The health publication STAT reports that medical ethicists believe wealthy and connected patients could obtain early access to the vaccine in several ways, especially by manipulating the definitions of “essential workers” and “high risk” conditions. Bioethicist Arthur Caplan of New York University has shared with the outlet that “there absolutely will be a black market.” He added: "Anything that’s seen as lifesaving, life-preserving, and that’s in short supply creates black markets."
Currently, California is facing a record-breaking week in coronavirus cases. Death tolls reached 293 on Tuesday, 379 on Wednesday, 300 on Thursday, and 272 on Friday reports the California Department of Public Health. The country's coronavirus cases have spiked past 17 million after, the deadliest day of the pandemic being recorded just this Thursday, December 17.