Different Takes: Transplant Patients Still Fear Covid Risk; Nepal Needs US Help Acquiring Vaccines
Opinion writers weigh in on these covid, vaccine and mask issues.
COVID Honor System Won't Protect Transplant Patients Like My Mother
Mask mandates are now again illegal in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott recently decreed that government entities cannot require masks, and municipalities can't impose their own mandates without falling afoul of the law. Texas is not alone. Several other states, including Illinois and South Carolina, loosened mask requirements after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people can "resume activities" unmasked. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief, tinged with some confusion, when the CDC proclamation went viral. Soon enough, parents of young children who can't yet get vaccinated protested this hasty unmasking. We need to listen to them. But we also need to listen to those in even higher risk populations who can receive vaccines but whose drug regimen reduces the shots' effectiveness. (Heather Houser, 5/26)
In 'Vaccine Apartheid,' Nepal Is Ground Zero. It Needs U.S. Help
The world has reached the era of Covid-19 “vaccine apartheid.” That was the warning this week from World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Nepal is now ground zero. Nepal has surpassed India in terms of Covid-19 deaths per capita, and is far ahead of other south Asian countries. About 40% of Covid-19 tests are coming back positive. With fewer than 2,000 ICU beds and 600 ventilators for a population of 30 million, Nepal’s health care system is collapsing. (Gagan K. Thapa and Duncan Maru, 5/26)
How COVID Changed Science
Rarely in recent memory has the world faced such an immediate and widespread global threat as complex as COVID-19. In its face, a select few have risen to the occasion, none more cherished and admired perhaps than the health care workers staffing the front lines. But standing close behind them in the trenches are the scientists and researchers who are among the very few who truly understand the scope of our evolutionary battle with the virus. Since the start of the pandemic, our scientists have acted with unprecedented speed and coordinated action to deliver us an armamentarium of medical weaponry to confront this global threat. (William A. Haseltine, 5/25)
Waiving Covid-19 Vaccine Patents Won't Get Shots In Arms Faster. It Slows Down New Vaccines
WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said on Friday that a full waiver of companies' Covid-19 vaccine patents under the World Trade Organization's auspices — sought by many developing countries and supported by President Joe Biden to combat disproportionate access to the therapies — will not be enough to speed up the provision of vaccines to countries where it is lagging. On that small point, at least, we agree: The nations that spearheaded the petition to waive the patent rights at the WTO, India and South Africa, have been unable to provide any evidence that the international system of respecting intellectual property rights under the law have impeded the development, production or distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. (David J. Kappos and Paul R. Michel, 5/25)
Pandemic Risk Assessments Are Never Objective
More than six weeks ago, I received my second Moderna shot, so I’ve had time to ease into fully vaccinated life. And yet I still haven’t eaten a meal inside a restaurant. Is that because I’m an overcautious ninny who can’t estimate risk? Bent into a defensive trauma crouch from a year of COVID-19 restrictions? Or worried I’ll shed some stray mRNA and disrupt the menses of surrounding diners? (Jordan Ellenberg, 5/25)
The Baltimore Sun:
Harford Health Officer: Should I Resign For Giving Mask Medical Advice To Marching Band?
Last week a local politician asked me to resign as health officer because I had given my best advice on how to protect a school marching band during a 4th of July parade. Horns and woodwinds expel aerosols much farther than breathing and speaking, so even an outdoor performance with an infected musician could spread COVID-19 to other players and to the crowd. The very best option to control disease would be to include only fully vaccinated students, because vaccines are now known to dramatically reduce the chance of spreading the virus. Yet, as a pediatrician and father of a former “bandy,” I knew that excluding unvaxxed children would deny them a lifetime highlight and important social recognition. Fortunately, there has been substantial research on aerosols and instruments that support asking unvaccinated players to place bell covers over their instruments to protect others and to just wear masks with mouth slits to protect themselves. Vaccinated players would not need masks and bell covers to prevent disease, but they could still opt-in. This is the best medical advice I could offer, so I offered it. Should I resign? (David Bishai, 5/25)
As Doctors And Mothers, We're Vaccinating Our Kids Against COVID-19. You Should, Too.
As a pediatrician, a pediatric infectious disease doctor and a pediatric palliative care doctor practicing in a large, urban, academic children’s hospital, we have been up close and personal with COVID-19 over the last 15 months. Although children are less likely to die from COVID-19 than adults, they can and do have serious and prolonged illnesses related to COVID-19 infection. We have personally cared for children with severe and devastating respiratory, neurologic and hematologic side effects of COVID-19 whose lives and families are forever changed. (Jill Ann Jarrell, Katherine Y. King and Mitra Misra, 5/26)
The Washington Post:
The Pandemic Isn’t Over — Especially For Our Children
With coronavirus infections declining to their lowest levels in nearly a year, and mask mandates ending in many states, the foreboding we’ve lived with throughout the pandemic has finally been replaced by optimism. But covid-19 remains a real concern for many — including families with young children. Not everyone is worried about kids. It’s true that children are unlikely to become severely ill from covid-19. Of the 3.9 million children diagnosed with coronavirus, just more than 300 have died. However, some children have become seriously ill, with more than 16,000 hospitalizations reported from a database of 24 states and New York City. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documents more than 3,700 instances of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a potentially severe consequence of covid-19 that results in inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and other organs. (Leana S. Wen, 5/25)