Viewpoints: Health Care Structure Worsening India’s Crisis; Enticing The Vaccine Hesitant With Incentives
Opinion writers tackle covid, vaccines and herd immunity.
Neglect Of India's Health System Fueled Its Covid Catastrophe
Covid-19 is surging uncontrollably throughout India, disrupting big cities like Mumbai and devastating rural areas where there is extreme poverty and hardly any health care. The heart-rending images of funeral pyres set up in public parks, burning an endless line of bodies, is only a glimpse into the tragedy unfolding across the country. (Kalpana Jain, 5/2)
San Diego Union-Tribune:
Herd Immunity For COVID-19 Isn't A Pipe Dream. Vaccination Incentives Can Help.
After 575,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 and five months of public service announcements urging people to get vaccinated to protect against infections, 55 percent of American adults (including all seven members of The San Diego Union-Tribune Opinion team) have at least one dose and 39 percent are fully vaccinated. But polls taken in March suggest 20 percent to 25 percent of Americans won’t get vaccinated, jeopardizing America’s shot at herd immunity, which scientists say requires the inoculation of 60 percent to 90 percent of the population. Skeptics cite fear of side effects, mistrust in the government and questions about the speed with which the vaccines were developed. (4/30)
With Covid Variant Raging, U.S. Puts Restrictions On Travel From India. How This Happened.
India's second Covid-19 wave has left much of the populace literally gasping for air. More daily infections — almost 390,000 — are now being logged there than in any other country since the start of the pandemic. Yet the true numbers likely dwarf these official figures as many cases and deaths are going uncounted. The spike led the U.S. to announce it would restrict travel from India starting on Tuesday. To handle the overwhelming number of cases, makeshift funeral pyres are being built in parking lots as crematories are overflowing with bodies. Hospitals have been overrun by infections, with sick patients being turned away and lifesaving medicines and oxygen supplies woefully low. As journalist Rana Ayyub wrote in Time, “If the apocalypse had an image, it would be the hospitals of India.” (Dr. Jalal Baig, 5/1)
Joe Rogan's Bad Vaccine Advice Has An Upside
When the popular podcaster Joe Rogan questioned whether young, healthy people should get Covid-19 vaccines in front of millions of listeners, he did the public health community a favor. His comments made it clear that they’ve done a terrible job so far in explaining why this low-risk group should get the shots. And some people just aren’t going to inject something into their bodies unless they’ve clearly been given a good reason. We’ve been told, correctly, that almost all the deaths from Covid-19 are in people over 60, and that many (though not all) of the younger people who’ve been hospitalized were obese or had other health conditions. We’ve also been told that the vaccines are 100% effective against hospitalization and death, so it’s not clear that an unvaccinated twentysomething is going to kill their vaccinated grandma or grandpa. (Faye Flam, 5/2)
Los Angeles Times:
How Conspiracy Theories About COVID-19 Prey On Latinos
Since the pandemic began, Latinos like my dad, a Mexican immigrant, have been hit with a torrent of false claims about COVID-19 on social media, including that the pandemic is a hoax. When I called Papi to urge him to wear a mask, his mind was made up: He said I was brainwashed. He didn’t believe my mother, who is a doctor, about COVID risks, either. I was frightened for his safety and angry at the people preying on Latinos’ learned distrust of authorities. Latinos, like other communities of color, have long been targets of inhumane medical policies and practices, such as the sterilization of a third of Puerto Rico’s women between the 1930s and 1970s and of thousands of California Latinos. Our hard-earned skepticism can be an asset, but in the pandemic, it has contributed to high infection and death rates in the Latino community. (Jean Guerrero, 5/2)
COVID Vaccine Plan Reflects Racial, Ethnic Disparities In Healthcare
Last summer, the country seemingly woke up to how systems and policies drive widespread racial disparities. With the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, it was painfully clear that Black people were not only more likely to be killed by police than white people – Black people were more likely to die of COVID-19, more likely to lose work during the pandemic, and more likely to face food and housing insecurity. People poured onto the streets to demand change. As Derek Chauvin is found guilty in George Floyd’s death, policies continue to exacerbate disparities. The recommendation to distribute vaccines based on age thresholds was “raceblind” and profoundly inequitable. About 12% of Black people and 8% of Latinx people in the U.S. are over the age of 65, relative to 21% of white people; together, Black and Latinx people were about half as likely as white people to be eligible for vaccination based on a 65 year age threshold. (Julia Raifman and Lorraine Dean, 4/30)