Opinion writers weigh on these and other pandemic issues.
The New York Times: The Era of Vaccine Diplomacy Is Here
President Biden has assured Americans that most will be vaccinated by the end of the summer. He should also assure them that, for reasons of morality, common sense and the national interest, it is very much in their best interest to be at the forefront of the global war against this vicious little spiked lump. (2/28)
The Washington Post: Anti-vaccine extremism is similar to domestic terrorism
Vaccines don’t stop viruses. Do vaccinations. This common public health adage means that a vaccine is of no use if we can’t get it into people’s arms. Inadequate supplies, natural disasters, and red tape have slowed efforts, but the overall goal of vaccinating a vast majority of the US population can ultimately be hampered by the anti-vaccine movement unless steps are taken to limit its impact . Otherwise America could see scenes like the one in Los Angeles on January 30th when a crowd of anti-vaccine protesters stormed Dodger Stadium, one of the largest vaccination centers in the country. These extremists managed to temporarily shut down the site and prevent patients, many of whom were elderly, from getting their shots. The anti-vaccine activists have told the Los Angeles Times that they intend to continue disrupting vaccination efforts. (Richard Pan, 2/28)
Statistics: Great ways for super spreaders to get their job done
Like so many other Americans, we were green with envy when we saw soccer fans swarm the streets of Tampa Bay after the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl and again when they saw the parade a few days later during the team’s winning flotilla. Clogged route. We too wanted to scream and sing and sing and not wear masks and ignore social distancing in the face of a virus pandemic that killed nearly 2.5 million people worldwide and more than 500,000 in the US (Lisa Kearns and Arthur L. Caplan, 2 / 27)
The Wall Street Journal: The CIA Can Help Spot The Next Pandemic
Covid has proven that international conventions and cooperation cannot be the only setback in a crisis. We need more ways to gather information when there are signs of outbreaks. This means that we have to rely on more traditional national security tools, including intelligence services. The need is underscored by the challenges faced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when the outbreak first emerged to gain access to samples of the coronavirus. China refused to share these samples with the US, and the World Health Organization refused to publicly pressure China to release them. This wasn’t the first time in recent years that China has refused to share samples of a dangerous new pathogen. (Scott Gottlieb, 2/28)
Kaiser Family Foundation: Trust in vaccines is not the main barrier to achieving herd immunity
Already the percentage of the general population who does not want to be vaccinated is so small that the US should be able to achieve herd immunity even if the Americans, who are most reluctant to receive the vaccine, don’t change their minds. New data from our KFF Vaccine Monitor shows that 57% of adults have either already been vaccinated at least once or plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and another 22% are in a “wait and see” group. This group has shrunk. Think of them as compelling swing voters. Many are likely to be vaccinated because they see family members, friends, and neighbors being vaccinated with no adverse effects. The ‘waiting group’ should be at the center of efforts to strengthen vaccination confidence, particularly in black and Latin American communities where the need to raise confidence in vaccines and meet information needs and access barriers is most pressing. Seven percent say they only get vaccinated if they have to work at work, and another 15 percent – the really hard core with no voice – say they don’t want to be vaccinated. (Drew Altman, 3/1)
Los Angeles Times: Why are my older parents having a hard time getting the vaccine?
When my parents finally got their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, I wasn’t thrilled. Far from it. The overall feeling was anger. The long road to getting those precious nudges in your arms has made it clear how broken our healthcare system can be. And I speak as a daughter and a doctor whose experience in the medical field brought no benefit. My parents, both 80 years old and living in the Bay Area, are cancer patients who are actively undergoing chemotherapy. When California opened vaccines to residents alongside health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities in mid-January, we naively waited for a day and thought our HMO – the one with the clever marketing slogan exhorting its members to be prosperous – would contact high-risk patients 65 (Dipti S. Barot, 2/27)
The Washington Post: How We Are Working towards Racial Justice in DC Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution
The pandemic has sparked a second public health crisis: the full effects of systemic racism. While the health department certainly did not intend to create a vaccine portal that would be more accessible to white and privileged residents, this was the result. For many Bread for the City customers, reliable access to computers and WiFi, as well as digital competence, are a challenge. Those originally admitted to our medical center for their vaccines also had the time and energy to stand up for themselves. In DC these people were mostly white. Anti-racism is an active state. Passivity allows systems to be created with privileged functions that are used as mainstream by default. (George A. Jones, 2/28)
The Washington Post: Hogan cannot explain Maryland’s vaccination inequality. He needs a plan to fix it instead.
The confusing adoption of coronavirus vaccines in Maryland raises serious concerns about transparency and fairness. Although the state Department of Health claims its top priority is “fair vaccine allocation based on county population,” Maryland counties vary widely in the proportion of residents vaccinated, from 12.4 percent receiving two shots in Worcester County to 3, 3 percent in Prince George’s County. If the goal is justice, but reality varies almost fourfold, then there is a problem. (Joshua M. Sharfstein, Leana S. Wen and Peter Beilenson, 2/27)
The New York Times: Brazil is brilliant at vaccination. What went wrong this time?
In a country where the pandemic has wreaked horrific damage – 250,000 people have died, the second highest number in the world after the United States, as cities along the Amazon like Manaus were left to their fate – failure is a disaster. So what went wrong? Maybe we should turn to Joe Droplet: he seems to know exactly who is to blame. From the beginning, Mr Bolsonaro’s government downplayed the severity of the pandemic. (Vanessa Barbara, 2/28)
Statistics: Senator Rand Paul misunderstood transgender medicine. Here is the truth
In a tense exchange on Thursday during the Senate confirmation hearing of Dr. Rachel Levine, President Biden’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of Health, revealed to Senator Rand Paul his lack of understanding or possibly prejudice against transgender youth. (Sai Shanthanand Rajagopal and Henna Hundal, 2/26)
Los Angeles Times: Sexless potato heads are not a cause for panic
As someone with a three story pink Barbie dream house in the middle of their living room, I can tell you that I pay more attention to gendered children’s toys these days than is normal for a woman my age. For example, I’ve noticed that the abundance of barbies sprawling across my floor aren’t always fair skinned and blonde, with incredibly toned chests like they were when I was little. My 10-year-old niece’s dolls come in a range of skin colors and sizes. Some Barbies, you might even say, are this current slang for a full-figured, curvy body. This is a fantastic development and if I need to explain why, you weren’t paying attention. Now comes the less important, but far more hysterical news that Hasbro’s Mr. Potato Head brand is about to drop the “Mr.”. and just become … Potato Head. (Robin Abcarian, 2/27)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a round-up of health coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.