Different Takes: Deciding Who Gets Paxlovid; Omicron Forces Us To Review Triage Procedures
Opinion writers examine these covid issues.
Who Should Get First Dibs On The New COVID Pill?
Scientists who’ve been reluctant to talk up any new COVID-19 treatment are suddenly using the expression “game changer” to describe the Pfizer antiviral pill Paxlovid. But the changed game will include rationing. It’s no coincidence that it works the same way as the drugs that changed everything with the AIDS epidemic. Called protease inhibitors, they turned HIV from a death sentence to a manageable disease. (Faye Flam, 1/4)
Omicron Is Overloading Hospitals And Raising The Cruel Issue Of Triage
At some point after he became chief surgeon in Napoleon’s army, Dominique Jean Larrey started walking across blood-soaked battlefields to pick out those among the wounded who could still be saved, usually by instant amputation of limbs. In time, he developed a system of sorting and separating — trier in French — the casualties. Ignoring rank and nationality, he considered only those who had the greatest chance of surviving. His method became known as triage.In worst-case scenarios, triage is nowadays accepted almost universally as necessary and justified. And yet, the idea still rests on an act of cruelty — cruel both to a victim and to the doctor having to make the decision. It often necessitates allowing one human being to die in order to ration the care that might let another live. (Andreas Kluth, 1/5)
The New York Times:
We Have To Stop Relying On Luck To Weather The Pandemic
I have some good news and some bad news, and they’re both the same. Seven independent lab studies have found that while Omicron’s mutations make it exceptionally good at causing breakthrough cases even in people who have been vaccinated or previously infected, they also render it less able to effectively infect the lower lungs, a step associated with more serious illness. Plus, in country after country where Omicron has spread, epidemiological data shows that vaccines are still helping prevent severe disease or worse. (Zeynep Tufekci, 1/5)
My Toddler Got Covid. This Is What I Realized
After spending the last two years terrified of getting Covid-19, last month our four-year-old daughter -- too young to be vaccinated, much less boosted -- got sick. There was an outbreak in her pre-K classroom, so as soon she got a temperature, we did an at-home test. We spent a few sleepless nights fighting to bring her 103-degree fever down as our little warrior coughed and struggled with congestion. Her doctor told us to only take her to the hospital if she had trouble breathing. The biggest "weapon" I had to help my kid was over-the-counter medicine to reduce her fever. (Anushay Hossain, 1/4)
The Washington Post:
Fighting Omicron Means Facing Reality. Slogans Don’t Help.
The new year dawns with a pandemic of twin peaks. One is a medical and public health crisis, an enormous cascade of new daily cases, ultra-contagious but evidently less severe than in the past. The other is a wave of disruption caused by the sheer volume of spreading illness, threatening hospitals and health-care systems and confronting the country with a tsunami of absenteeism. Once again, the public faces threats to personal well-being and to the nation’s health and safety. (1/4)
The Baltimore Sun:
Amid Omicron, Maryland Must Ensure Convenient COVID Testing On A Mass Scale
As a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, I was required to test for COVID-19 weekly throughout this past semester. Hopkins uses a saliva PCR testing system for asymptomatic screening: participants make same-day appointments, deposit saliva into test tubes, and receive lab results through MyChart — often all within a day. As cases rose in Maryland, what initially felt like a mild annoyance in my week quickly became a welcome reassurance: The testing was fast, free, noninvasive, and I could be around loved ones and feel reasonably confident that I was likely not passing COVID-19 onto them. (Laura E. Kroart, 1/4)
Dallas Morning News:
It Shouldn’t Be This Hard To Find A COVID Test In Dallas
Two days before Christmas our families shared a meal together. We sang songs at the piano and played board games. No one suspected COVID-19. We wouldn’t have even tested, except for the airplane flight the next day. By Christmas Eve, one of the spouses had a positive test result. We were fortunate that we didn’t end up in the hospital, but still, Christmas was ruined. And that was just the start of our troubles. Surely, we thought, testing the rest of us would be easy and straightforward. How wrong we were. (Jo Guldi and Macabe Keliher, 1/5)