Viewpoints: Coronavirus Exposes Health System’s Vulnerabilities; Why Do We Waste Billions On Supplements We Know Don’t Work?
Opinion writers tackle these and other health issues.
The Wall Street Journal:
A Made-In-China Contagion
China has reported more than 2,700 infections and 82 deaths from its latest coronavirus, and some experts say there could be hundreds of thousands of cases not yet confirmed. The outbreak is exposing the vulnerabilities of China’s top-down government, and the damage is spreading far beyond the mainland. China has been more transparent than it was with the SARS virus in 2002, no doubt in part because its leaders realize they need foreign assistance. But its response hasn’t been up to global standards, and accounts from officials seem to be changing by the hour. (1/27)
The Wall Street Journal:
Abolish Asia’s ‘Wet Markets,’ Where Pandemics Breed
Chinese scientists have identified a “wet market”—where live and dead animals, including many wildlife species, are sold for consumption—as the chief suspect for the origin of the Wuhan coronavirus. The virus is closely related to the virus that caused the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which also was transmitted to humans from a wet market. China closed all markets that sell wildlife and temporarily banned the shipment and sale of wildlife throughout the country. (Christian Walzer and Aili Kang, 1/27)
The New York Times:
We Made The Coronavirus Epidemic
The latest scary new virus that has captured the world’s horrified attention, caused a lockdown of 56 million people in China, disrupted travel plans around the globe and sparked a run on medical masks from Wuhan, Hubei Province, to Bryan, Texas, is known provisionally as “nCoV-2019.” It’s a clunky moniker for a lurid threat. The name, picked by the team of Chinese scientists who isolated and identified the virus, is short for “novel coronavirus of 2019.” (David Quammen, 1/28)
Is Coronavirus A Global Emergency? What We Don't Know Can Be Dangerous
Public health knows no borders, no boundaries, nor should it. In fact, the more we consider health concerns occurring elsewhere in the world to be our problems too, the better off we will be. Diseases like the deadly Ebola, the highly contagious measles, the immunocompromising HIV or the cancer-causing HPV remain problems in underdeveloped countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East — and they’re our problems, too. We need science rather than hysteria in order to contain them. (Dr. Marc Siegel, 1/27)
The Washington Post:
Most Dietary Supplements Don’t Do Anything. Why Do We Spend $35 Billion A Year On Them?
How is it that perfectly respectable public-health initiatives, such as vaccines and water fluoridation, give rise to suspicion and conspiracy theories, while an entire industry that’s telling us out-and-out falsehoods in order to take our money gets a free pass? Dietary supplements, people! Where is the outrage? Every year, Americans spend something like $35 billion on vitamins, minerals, botanicals and various other substances that are touted as health-giving but mostly do nothing at all. Nothing at all! (Tamar Haspel, 1/27)
Individuals, Institutions Can Counter Medication Overload
Money talks in Washington, D.C., and no sector of the economy speaks more loudly than the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. Its flow of cash has fostered an epidemic of medication overload. Over the past five years, pharma has spent about $1.2 billion lobbying federal lawmakers, far more than any other industry. The industry has massive influence over public policy, much of it devoted in recent months to hindering legislative efforts to lower drug prices. (Shannon Borwnlee and Judith Garber, 1/28)
Pregnancy Profiling: Latest Nativist Immigration Policy From Trump
In mid-January, a woman from Japan was refused the ability to board a plane from Hong Kong to the U.S. unless she submitted to a pregnancy test, after an airline agent determined, incorrectly, that she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. Immigration and civil rights lawyers went on alert. Airlines stand to be fined for allowing inadmissible persons on their flights into the U.S. As a consequence, the actions of airlines sometimes signal advance knowledge of internal memos or immigration rules about to be formally enacted. (Dina Francesca, 1/27)
Los Angeles Times:
My Daughter Was Murdered, But It Was Misguided Mental Health Laws That Put Her In Danger
Earlier this month, word came to me that my precious daughter Amy had died, probably at the hands of another. Her body was found in an abandoned rental car in an upscale neighborhood of Hermosillo, Mexico, four hours south of the Arizona border. ... About five years ago, in her late 30s, Amy had fallen victim to mental illness. One shrink called it bipolar psychosis; another, schizoaffective disorder. Whatever its name, it gripped my little girl’s psyche and wouldn’t let go. Medication never had an opportunity to help because her fevered brain told her not to take it. Therapy was futile. (Dennis McDougal, 1/26)
Are We Making Progress Or Stuck In Neutral With The Opioid Crisis?
Today’s opioid crisis requires no introduction. The deaths, costs and subsequent lawsuits have become front-page articles for many publications and news outlets. As awareness of the problem has increased, Congress has attempted to positively intervene by reducing legislative barriers and improving funding. (Adam Bruggeman, 1/27)
Los Angeles Times:
Birth Control Should Be Available Over The Counter. How Congress Can Make That Happen
Congress should revoke the Food and Drug Administration’s power to require women to obtain prescriptions to purchase hormonal contraceptives, a change that would reduce the price of birth control pills and finally allow consumers to buy them over the counter. Congress should make this move without requiring insurers to cover over-the-counter contraceptives, which would cause prices to increase. (Michael F. Cannon and Jeffrey A. Singer, 1/27)
Trump Is Misinformed About Traumatic Brain Injuries
In the 1992 movie "Scent of a Woman," Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, played by Al Pacino, gives an Academy Award-winning impassioned speech that references his military service and the wounds of war: “I have seen boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there isn’t nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit; there is no prosthetic for that,” he tells the disciplinary board of an elite New England prep school. (Rory E. Riley-Topping, 1/27)