Viewpoints: More Contagious Covid Variants Make Vaccine Rollouts Even More Urgent; The Horror Movie Just Keeps Getting Worse
Opinion writers express views about new strains of the virus that could upend previous efforts to halt the spread and other issues, as well.
The Washington Post:
New Coronavirus Variants Could Lead To A Surge. The Vaccine Rollout Is More Urgent Than Ever.
The implications of new variants of the coronavirus, detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, are potentially grave for the United States. We don’t say that to be alarmist, but to be realistic. Although the new variants do not appear to be more lethal or more able to evade vaccines, the epidemiological data in recent weeks strongly suggests the virus is more transmissible by 50 percent or so. In the United States, that could lead to a surge like nothing we have yet seen. It makes the vaccine rollout more urgent than ever. (1/4)
Hospitals: Compare 'First-Shot' Vs. 'Set-Aside' Vaccine Approaches
The FDA authorizations of two Covid-19 vaccines so far specify two-shot regimens, spaced three weeks apart for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and four weeks apart for the Moderna vaccine. But because these vaccines will likely be in short supply for many months, some experts have proposed using available vaccine doses under a “first-shot” strategy: give as many people as possible their first dose of the vaccine and then deliver the second booster shot when supplies catch up. The approach would be different from the current “set-aside” approach in the U.S., where one dose of booster is reserved in parallel with each first shot delivered. (Peter B. Bach, 1/4)
The Politics Of Covid Just Got Even More Hellish
A new strain of Covid-19, more contagious than previous strains, is now circulating in dozens of countries. Other new strains, such as one first detected in South Africa, will almost certainly emerge. Aside from the challenges these mutations pose to public health, they will also be a test of our moral and political principles. As exhausted as we all are from making stressful judgments throughout this pandemic, we are about to face some of the most difficult trade-offs yet. (Tyler Cowen, 1/5)
The Washington Post:
We Had The Tools To Fight Covid-19 Before It Arrived. Next Time We Might Not Be So Lucky.
Fighting the next virus might not be so simple — and there will be another virus. Bats and other species frequently shuffle coronavirus genes that can lead to human pandemics, and human exposure to such animals cannot be eliminated. Even though the next virus could be much deadlier — and could strike in a year or two or five — it is clear that people are unlikely to tolerate another round of stringent measures such as those employed this year to fight the pandemic’s spread. There is a scientific principle of induction that states that with enough similar data from independent but related experiments, one can infer in advance what the solution will be to a new problem. So we need to practice designing vaccines for new coronaviruses. (Andrew P. Feinberg, 1/3)
Decades Of Basic Research Paved The Way For Today’s Covid-19 Vaccines
The emergency use authorizations of mRNA vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna and the likely gradual rollout of multiple others is our collective best hope for curtailing the Covid-19 pandemic. The speed at which these vaccines has been developed is remarkable, both in absolute terms and compared to the multiyear time frame it normally takes to create and approve new vaccines. Great credit is due to the pharmaceutical industry and the university and government scientists who have worked directly and diligently on Covid-19 vaccine programs in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere. They deserve accolades for their skillful hard work. But the Covid-19 vaccines did not come from nowhere. Decades of research by tens of thousands of scientists worldwide put in place the essential knowledge and methods that underpinned their rapid development. (John P. Moore and Ian A. Wilson, 1/5)
Los Angeles Times:
Overdose And Addiction Epidemics Are Raging Alongside COVID
While Americans have focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, another epidemic has also been killing people across the country in unprecedented numbers: overdose deaths. And the two crises aren’t unconnected. (Joseph Friedman and Morgan Godvin, 1/5)
Los Angeles Times:
L.A. Needs To Stop The COVID Outbreak Among Homeless People
For months during the pandemic, homeless people in Los Angeles seemed less susceptible to contracting COVID-19 — a combination of being spurned by others (the ultimate social distancing) and living by themselves in tents on sidewalks. It also helped that the city and county provided up to 4,000 motel and hotel beds to particularly vulnerable homeless people through a program called Project Roomkey. All that has changed now. The homeless population is having its own alarming surge in COVID cases. And 60% of those cases are in shelters of all kinds — from vast emergency shelters to the smaller-scale ones created under L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home program. Nowhere a homeless person goes is completely protected from the virus these days. (1/5)