Plan now for vaccination decisions to come
wire

Plan now for vaccination decisions to come

  • 0
{{featured_button_text}}

Editor’s note: Today’s guest editorial comes from Tribune News Service. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.

Recent news from researchers at Oxford University gives some hope that a vaccine for COVID-19 could be ready as early as this fall. But as with test kits, N95 masks and ventilators, the demand will far exceed the supply — at least initially. So, who should be first in line for a vaccination once it is available?

Health care workers, from doctors to hospital janitors, are on the front lines of fighting this pandemic, so protecting them should be our first concern. After that, deciding who should get vaccinated could get contentious, with states competing against one another for limited supplies, various industries claiming priority and those who can afford it arguing for a free market approach.

Epidemiologists might recommend giving certain populations or regions priority based on mathematical models of disease spread. Others might advocate protecting those at greatest risk of severe illness or death, such as older people and those with underlying health conditions.

Still others will want to prioritize those most at risk of infection, including people who work in “essential industries” or where alternative strategies such as wearing masks and social distancing are difficult.

Asked during a congressional hearing on May 14 whether Americans will have trouble getting a vaccine once one is available, Dr. Rick Bright, the recently ousted director of a key federal agency overseeing vaccine production and purchasing, replied “absolutely.”

We have seen the free-for-all, if not downright corrupt, nature of government support programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, in which large institutions have gamed the system to soak up funds intended for, and desperately needed by, small businesses. So it is critical that we devise a transparent and bureaucratically simple system, one that caters to those in greatest need.

To reach older people and those with serious underlying health conditions, Medicare-eligible people could get priority. To reach people living in poverty who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — and who may work in service industries that are essential for opening up the economy, and that put them at high risk — people on Medicaid can be fast-tracked.

Reaching other vulnerable populations can be achieved through public health clinics, the Indian Health Service, and the Vaccines for Children Program. While children seem to have mostly mild or asymptomatic infections, vaccinating them will help get the economy back on track and provide an important check to broader transmission.

This pandemic has made clear that, in our interconnected world, we need to act globally. The U.S. government recently declined to help fund a global effort to support vaccine development. That’s a huge mistake. We need to support global efforts not only for vaccine development but also to expand manufacturing capacity and the distribution of an eventual vaccine.

Going further, we must support the development of a system to pool intellectual property rights for technologies used in preventing, detecting, controlling, and treating COVID-19, to ensure that any breakthroughs are available through licensing at reasonable and affordable terms.

As we face an uncertain future of second, third and perhaps seasonal waves of COVID-19 cases, we need not only more investment, but national leadership and greater recognition of health as a human right, available to all.

0
1
0
0
0

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

The Supreme Court’s recent opinion interpreting the Civil Rights Act is a comforting reminder of President Trump's consistent inability to accomplish his goals. The opinion was authored by Trump's first pick for the Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch. Flatly rejecting the Trump administration's arguments, Gorsuch held that the Civil Rights Act prevents employers from discriminating against gay and transgender employees. 

July 1 is not a date Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is likely to forget anytime soon. Some of the most iconic and biggest spending brands in American life — including Coca-Cola, The Hershey Company and Ford Motor Company, have joined a call for the suspension of advertising on Facebook this month. From Adidas to Verizon, many of the brands you see every night advertising on TV have signed on, according to a list at the boycott's website.

When it comes to COVID-19, a college campus is like a cruise ship, a cinema multiplex and a restaurant all rolled into one. Yet many U.S. institutions of higher education are forging ahead with on-campus, in-person classes and activities for fall terms, making campuses likely hotbeds of illness. Some students, faculty and staff will likely have permanent damage. Some will probably die.

Employer-based health care is a fine system — if you have an employer. And no pandemic. And an administration that is actually interested in the health of Americans.

If we were starting from scratch, this is not how we would build a freeway system. In a perfect world, there would be multiple bridges across the Columbia River to connect Clark County with Portland. Mass transit would be readily accessible on both sides of the river. Interstate 5 would not compress into a bottleneck at the Rose Quarter. And we certainly would not pave over one of Portland's most scenic spots — the east bank of the Willamette River — with a major freeway.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alert

Breaking News