Different Takes: Government Needs To Start Ramping Up More Than Vaccine Production; Cutting Remdesivir Price Would Hurt Everyone In Long Run
Editorial pages focus on these pandemic issues and other health issues.
The Wall Street Journal:
Antibodies Can Be The Bridge To A Vaccine
America’s coronavirus epidemic has taken a turn for the worse, with many more states showing sharp increases in daily cases compared with two weeks ago. How long will it take for researchers to catch up and develop more effective therapies against Covid-19? The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed is working with drugmakers to accelerate the development and manufacturing of vaccines. Five candidates are in clinical trials, including one from Pfizer (on whose board one of us, Dr. Gottlieb, sits). More vaccines are expected to enter such trials soon. A safe and effective vaccine is the best hope for ending the pandemic and fully restoring the economy. Everyone is hoping for success—and quickly. But the path to a vaccine can be long and complex. (Luciana Borio and Scott Gottlieb, 7/5)
Coronavirus Drug Cost – Ignore Critics. Here's Why The Price Is Right
Last week, Gilead Sciences announced that it would sell a five-day course of its coronavirus drug, Remdesivir, for just over $3,100. The antiviral, currently the only medication proven to speed recovery from COVID-19, received FDA approval in May. Some Democratic lawmakers and policy experts attacked remdesivir's price as soon as it was announced. They claim that Gilead could sell the drug for as little as $1 per dose – and that the higher price reflects nothing more than the pharmaceutical company's desire to capitalize on the crisis. That critique makes little sense. Even some of the drug industry's most prominent critics have acknowledged that Remdesivir's price is fair, as the value it delivers could end up being a lot higher than its price tag. (Sally Pipes, 7/5)
The New York Times:
Will We Be Hostages To Drug Makers’ Covid Vaccine Pricing?
Yes, of course, Americans’ health is priceless, and reining in a deadly virus that has trashed the economy would be invaluable. But a Covid-19 vaccine will have an actual price tag. And given the prevailing business-centric model of American drug pricing, it could well be budget breaking, perhaps making it unavailable to many. The last vaccine to quell a global viral scourge was the polio inoculation, which ended outbreaks that killed thousands and paralyzed tens of thousands each year in the United States. The March of Dimes Foundation covered the nominal drug cost for a free national vaccination program, estimated at $50,000. (Elisabeth Rosenthal, 7/6)
The Washington Post:
I’ve Watched In Alarm As My Fellow Republicans Shun Masks. It’s Selfish.
I’ve watched in alarm and dismay as the course of action recommended by almost all of our nation’s infectious-disease experts has been shunned by many of my fellow conservatives and Republicans. President Trump, Vice President Pence and many governors either refuse to wear a mask or wear one only occasionally, sending inconsistent messages about the importance of citizens wearing masks even as covid-19 spreads at record levels. I live in Austin, where our state pushed to reopen absent clear communication and guidelines about the concerted individual and collective actions that would be essential to reopening safely. When leaders said “We are open for business,” too many citizens heard “Life is back to normal.” Although some Republicans are now speaking up, for weeks there were mixed or no messages about everyone’s personal responsibility to don a mask in public. (Karen Hughes, 7/1)
Covid-19 Cases In Arizona, Florida, Texas Aren't On Same Scale
When New York City’s Covid-19 epidemic peaked in late March and early April, the city was reporting more than 5,000 new confirmed cases a day, and more than 60% of tests for the disease were coming back positive. In Arizona, which has a similar if somewhat smaller population (7.3 million versus 8.3 million), new cases are currently averaging about 3,000 a day and about 20% of tests are positive. Things may keep getting worse in Arizona, and its Covid outbreak may eventually surpass New York City’s. But it’s a long, long way from getting there, and I’m guessing that it won’t. That isn’t to say that things are looking good in the Grand Canyon State, or in Texas, Florida, Southern California or any of the other places now experiencing big growth in coronavirus cases. But the specific conditions that enabled the awful explosion of the disease in New York City are not being replicated. (Justin Fox, 7/1)
As Trump Gaslights America About Coronavirus, Republicans Face A Critical Choice
The gulf between reality and President Donald Trump's delusional vision of a waning coronavirus threat was on full display this weekend, as cases soared in key hotspots while he delivered speeches at Mount Rushmore and at the White House, with little physical distancing and few masks, directly contradicting the advice from his public health experts. Playing with fire at a time when experts say the spread of the virus appears to be spiraling out of control, Trump continued gaslighting Americans about the threat to their health during a Fourth of July speech from the South Lawn of the White House, where he minimized the dangers of Covid-19 with a baseless statement that 99% of coronavirus cases are "harmless," a claim his Food and Drug Administration chief could not back up Sunday morning. (Maeve Reston, 7/6)
Tougher Oversight Key To Protecting State’s Elderly
Even as Massachusetts takes some satisfaction in its latest coronavirus trends, there is one unavoidable fact it must wrestle with: 63 percent of all COVID-19 deaths here thus far have been among residents or staff at long-term care facilities, compared with under 40 percent nationally. And that raises the critical question of what more can be done to protect the state’s most vulnerable population in the event of a second wave of the virus. (7/5)
People In Mental Health Crises Need Help, Not Handcuffs
A mental health crisis can be a frightening thing to the individual experiencing it as well as to people witnessing it. Those in its throes need help, but all too often get handcuffs. We have seen that scenario play out from the inside and the outside. It’s time for it to change. (Bill Carruthers and Dan Gillison, 7/3)