Viewpoints: Biden Approves Waiver For Global Vaccine Access; Low Vaccine Rates May Lead To Winter Surge
Opinion writers examine these covid, vaccine and herd immunity issues.
Biden Strikes A Blow For Fairness In Sharing Vaccine Knowledge
This week, the Biden administration took the unprecedented step of supporting a waiver of intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic. Katherine Tai, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), said in a statement: "This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines." (Meenakshi Narula Ahamed, 5/7)
The Washington Post:
We Could See A Winter Comeback Of Covid-19 If We Don’t Get More Americans Vaccinated Now
After a long plateau that for a time looked like the start of a fourth surge, coronavirus infections are finally declining in the United States. More than half of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and adolescents 12 to 15 years old may be able to get inoculated as soon as next week. As Americans resume many aspects of pre-pandemic life, there is a sense that the worst is behind us. I share this optimism, but I also worry about what could be in store for us after a relatively calm summer. (Leana S. Wen, 5/6)
COVID's Outsized Impact On Asian Americans Is Being Ignored
Headlines, health experts and policy makers rarely talk about COVID and Asian American disparities. Yet reports show that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) suffer from disproportionately high COVID death rates and hospitalizations. To make matters worse, their suffering remains largely overlooked in a form of invisible but deadly racial bias. In an analysis of 50 million U.S. patients, Asians were most likely to die from COVID and to be hospitalized compared to white patients, according to a September 2020 report from Kaiser Family Foundation and Epic Health Research Network. (Amy Yee, 5/6)
The Boston Globe:
Vaccine Hesitancy, Or Obstinacy?
Massachusetts vaulted over another milestone this week, closing in early on its goal of getting 4.1 million people vaccinated against COVID-19 by July. Most of New England is stepping up, with some of the highest vaccination rates in the country. But even here, demand for the shots has softened, and state health officials are worried that without a significant uptick, the dream of herd immunity from the deadly virus may be forever out of reach. After the initial rush, the work of vaccinating the public is getting slower and harder. Helpfully, most of the state’s universities, including the public UMass system, are requiring that students be vaccinated as a condition of living or studying on campus this fall. And many private companies expect to require employees to be vaccinated if they return to in-office work. But Massachusetts won’t be mandating vaccines for its executive branch employees. That’s thousands of workers — including prison guards, state troopers, social workers, and more who have close encounters with the public — who won’t be required to protect themselves and others. (Renee Loth, 5/7)
The New York Times:
Our Pathetic Herd Immunity Failure
Could today’s version of America have been able to win World War II? It hardly seems possible.That victory required national cohesion, voluntary sacrifice for the common good and trust in institutions and each other. America’s response to Covid-19 suggests that we no longer have sufficient quantities of any of those things. In 2020 Americans failed to socially distance and test for the coronavirus and suffered among the highest infection and death rates in the developed world. Millions decided that wearing a mask infringed their individual liberty. (David Brooks, 5/6)
COVID Vaccine For Teens: Kids At High Risk Should Be A Top Priority
Last October, a large study from the United Kingdom revealed that when it comes to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, people with Down syndrome are "four times more likely to be hospitalized – and 10 times more likely to die – than the general population." My son, an autistic boy with Down syndrome, was 13 at the time and I remember the spike of dread that I felt when I read those numbers, confirming everything that I feared. A few weeks later, in early November, word came from school that he had been exposed to COVID. Then he got a low fever that just wouldn’t go away. My wife got a positive COVID test and a much higher fever. We spent half the month in terror that things would get worse, though thankfully they didn’t. (David M. Perry, 5/6)
The Baltimore Sun:
Should We Still Get Outraged By Masklessness Indoors?
Rewind one year, and the ethics of mask wearing was distinctly black and white. Back then, it was perfectly justifiable to lambaste someone for not wearing a mask within an indoor public space. In fact, it was almost a civic responsibility. For example, take the Uber driver who arrived at a pickup, mask dangling beneath the chin and air teeming with their own respiratory fingerprint. Or the person in the Dunkin’ Donuts line sans mask and without so much as an effort to stretch their shirt to cover their nose and mouth. And what about the guy running maskless on the treadmill in the small gym in your apartment building’s basement? If they received a bit of a verbal shakedown, they deserved it! (Eric Dessner, 5/6)