Viewpoints: Trump, Ostrich Or Hero?; Tough Days Ahead For The FDA
Editorial pages focus on these pandemic issues and others.
Richmond Times Dispatch:
The Pandemic's 'Ostrich Syndrome' And The Fallacy Of 'If'
Like other physicians across the country, I’m exhausted screaming at the TV and no longer have any hair to pull out. How much longer will President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and others continue to put their heads in the sand? How much longer will many members of the Coronavirus Task Force refuse to publicly speak out when the president puts out false information such as testing causes more cases and the virus will “magically disappear”? How much longer will the administration and some members of the task force continue to say the United States is doing great with testing when there are lines of cars waiting to get tested and days to weeks to receive results? How much longer will Trump continue to politicize mask-wearing? How much longer will Congress continue sitting silent while there is inaction by the White House? We need fewer ostriches and more leaders. (Kenneth Olshansky, 8/23)
Trump Delivered – Why I'm Voting To Reelect The President
When it comes to the coronavirus, I’m convinced that President Trump's early decision to limit travel from China saved hundreds of thousands of American lives. I believe the combination of potential vaccines and therapeutics we hope will be ready later this year will deliver a crushing blow to the virus. The president’s focus on developing a vaccine through ‘Operation Warp Speed’ will pay dividends to the United States and the world at large.President Trump, in my view, has earned the right to four more years. With his reelection, America's standing in the world will be solidified for generations to come, and our economy will be rebuilt better than ever before. (Sen. Lindsey Graham, 8/24)
FDA Head Needs To Tell Trump The Agency Is Not Part Of 'Deep State'
The next 73 days are going to be very difficult for Stephen Hahn. As the Nov. 3 election nears, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner can expect intensifying pressure from President Trump to approve a vaccine or a drug to combat Covid-19. Desperate to win and angry at criticism of his handling of the pandemic, Trump twice this week complained that the “deep state” may cause a delay. (Ed Silverman, 8/22)
The Wall Street Journal:
Betting On Better Drug Trials To Beat Covid-19
The development of drugs to treat Covid-19 is moving at a remarkable pace. The use of steroids is a major advance that is reducing the risk of death in hospitalized patients. Novel drugs, including manufactured antibodies that mimic the body’s immune response to the virus, are in late-stage development and could be available by the fall. There are about 750 drugs in screening studies (Phase II) or in large, definitive clinical trials (Phase III).The challenge is to develop evidence as quickly as possible without compromising standards. Anytime there’s an unmet medical need, the tendency is to blame the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory process. But if we don’t know what works, and what doesn’t, we’ll waste time and money on treatments that won’t help and may harm. Even if a vaccine is discovered and approved, the pandemic won’t end unless most Americans get vaccinated, which will require confidence in the product’s safety and efficacy. (Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan, 8/23)
Is Covid-19 Growing Less Lethal? The Infection Fatality Rate Says 'No'
Recent reports have suggested that Covid-19 has become markedly less lethal in the United States. Our analysis of death rates and infection fatality rates from Arizona, the U.S. as a whole, and New York City shows it isn’t, indicating that public health measures to reduce infections should not be relaxed. (Douglas L. Rothman, Jessica E. Rothman and Gerard Bossard, 8/24)
The New York Times:
Are We Looking For The Wrong Coronavirus Vaccines?
Not long after the new coronavirus first surfaced last December, an ambitious prediction was made: A vaccine would be available within 12 to 18 months, and it would stop the pandemic. Despite serious challenges — how to mass manufacture, supply and deliver a vaccine worldwide — the first prong of that wish could well be fulfilled. Eight vaccine candidates are undergoing large-scale efficacy tests, so-called Phase 3 trials, and results are expected by the end of this year or early 2021. But even if one, or more, of those efforts succeeds, a vaccine might not end the pandemic. This is partly because we seem to be focused at the moment on developing the kind of vaccine that may well prevent Covid-19, the disease, but that wouldn’t do enough to stop the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. (Adam Finn and Richard Malley, 8/24)
St. Louis Post Dispatch:
Pandemic Information Blackout Is The Latest Example Of Trump's Mismanagement
After the Trump administration ordered hospitals last month to start reporting their coronavirus statistics to the federal Department of Health and Human Services instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, publicly available statistics immediately fell into disarray. Perhaps the greatest indicator of that disarray is the fact that when visitors go to the Health and Human Services website for coronavirus statistics, they’re prompted to go to the CDC’s website for coronavirus statistical updates.In other words, the CDC remains the authority for reliable coronavirus information. Why the administration ordered the switch remains anyone’s guess, but there’s little question President Donald Trump’s fragile ego and business conflicts of interest are at the root of it. (8/23)
The Wall Street Journal:
Biden’s Lockdown Mistake
Now we know why his advisers have kept Joe Biden under wraps. Asked in an ABC interview airing Sunday night whether he’d be willing to shut down the economy again to head off a new wave of coronavirus infection, he replied: “I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists.”Ah, the resort to scientists. But which scientists? The truth is that the experts have been wrong numerous times in this pandemic, and they often disagree. They first said masks don’t help but now say they do. They said ventilators were vital but soon learned other clinical methods worked better. Most of all, they counseled strict lockdowns, but we’ve learned the hard way that shutting down the country can be more costly than the virus. (8/23)
The Washington Post:
I Saw Myself In Brayden Harrington’s Story Of Stuttering. He Showed Us The Power Of Sharing It Openly.
My favorite part of this year’s Democratic National Convention was 13-year-old Brayden Harrington speaking about how former vice president Joe Biden helped him with his stuttering. For me, it was deeply personal. I cried as I watched Brayden tell his story. Growing up as a person who stutters (PWS), I never imagined that I’d ever see someone stuttering openly and comfortably in front of millions of people.Stuttering affects approximately 3 million Americans. It’s most common in kids, with 5 percent of children struggling with this speech impediment at some point in their childhoods. Many continue to stutter as adults. The cause of stuttering is thought to be a combination of neurological, psychological and genetic factors. (Leana S. Wen, 8/22)
Responding To COVID-19 Failures
By now, most people have their list of the failures associated with COVID-19; political, financial, social, equity, and public health failures appear on most lists. In a new report, I joined 50 top experts from a wide variety of policy areas to diagnose and treat another facet of the COVID-19 crisis: legal failure. In Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19, our contributors surveyed numerous federal, state, and local laws, assessing their performance during COVID-19 and made hundreds of actionable recommendations for reform across the domains we assessed. (Nicolas P. Terry, 8/23)
Why Our Brains Are Having So Much Trouble With Covid-19
Covid-19 has been devastating for many reasons. There are the distinctive features of how the virus spreads and sickens us. There is the insufficient preparation, infrastructure, and leadership. Naturally, there's the social inequality that guaranteed that the virus would run its wildest among people with the least resources. The list goes on and on. But it's worth examining how the wreckage has also been made worse by a feature of our psyches -- namely, how poorly we handle ambiguity. (Robert M. Sapolsky, 8/22)
Will The Pandemic Exacerbate Or Reduce Economic Inequality In The US?
Thomas Piketty’s controversial bestseller “Capital in the Twenty First Century” reenergized the debate among mainstream economists and the wider public surrounding the causes and consequences of heightened levels of income and wealth inequality. The emergence and later dominance in the last quarter of the 20th century of neo-classical macroeconomics had led to the downplaying of distributional issues and to an emphasis on reducing supply-side constraints. (Vivekanand Jayakumar, 8/23)
San Francisco Chronicle:
US Postal Service Is Critical To Californians’ Health
On Monday, House Democrats proposed $25 billion in emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has lowered revenues, the USPS has run a multibillion-dollar funding deficit with Republicans unprepared to budge. Reports now indicate that mail sorting machines and post boxes have been removed in cities and towns across America.Politics of the Postal Service aside, I can tell you, as a doctor, how vital the post office is for the health of our most vulnerable Californians. (Shoshana Ungerlediger, 8/21)