Viewpoints: Pros, Cons Of Pushing Out An Early Vaccine; All Eyes Focus On The FDA’s Integrity
Editorial pages focus on these public health issues and others.
The New York Times:
Gerald Ford Rushed Out A Vaccine. It Was A Fiasco.
Last week, news arrived that President Trump had lurched into what may be his most reckless obsession yet: His administration would probably seek an “emergency use authorization” for a Covid-19 vaccine long before some scientists believe it would be safe to do so. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services immediately addressed the obvious suspicion: “Talk of an ‘October surprise’”— an attempt to manufacture good news just before the November election — “is a lurid Resistance fantasy.” (Rick Perlstein, 9/2)
Early Vaccine? Trump Is Winning Debate With Public-Health Experts
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has just told states to prepare for a possible vaccine as early as November, putting the issue of vaccine approval front and center. So consider this column an open letter to scientists, researchers and other experts in public health. I have some news for you: In the debate over how quickly the Food and Drug Administration should approve a vaccine for Covid-19, and over concern about premature approval, you are losing to President Donald Trump. Right now your arguments are simply not good enough. To be clear, I am inclined to agree with you, as I am not myself flying around the world, trying to get the “early vaccines” from Russia and China. Yet the all-important question of the optimal speed of vaccine approval deserves far more attention. The Federal Reserve puts hundreds of economists on the task of figuring out the best monetary policy. There should be an equal number of you in the field of public health studying vaccine policy. (Tyler Cowen, 9/2)
Placebos Aren't Needed For Challenge Trials Of Covid-19 Vaccines
To control the Covid-19 pandemic, we need an effective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes this highly infectious disease. Some argue that we should speed up the development and testing of new vaccines by using human challenge trials, in which volunteers who have received a candidate vaccine are deliberately exposed to the coronavirus. We agree with this view, but question the proposed methodology of these trials. (Kent A. Peacock and John R. Vokey, 9/3)
The Washington Post:
The U.S. Is Facing A Crisis Of Confidence In Our Government Scientists
Eight months into the biggest public health crisis of our lifetimes, the United States is facing a related crisis: one of confidence in our federal government’s top scientific institutions.Last week, following alleged “top down” orders from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines on coronavirus testing that flew in the face of common sense and public health. Major medical organizations issued immediate rebukes; governors vowed not to follow the guidelines; and the former head of the National Institutes of Health and the CEO of the Rockefeller Foundation wrote a joint op-ed urging the American public to “ignore the CDC.” (Leana S. Wen, 9/2)
Dear Commissioner Hahn: Tell The Truth Or Resign
Dear Dr. Hahn, I'm writing because I'm gravely concerned about your leadership of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The circumstances of your statements in recent days has led to a crisis in confidence. Not only has your credibility been diminished but so has that of the FDA, its 15,000-plus staff members, and, most importantly, your ability to oversee the health interests of the American people. Let me remind you of the FDA's mission statement: "FDA is responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medical products more effective, safer, and more affordable and by helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medical products and foods to maintain and improve their health." (Eric Topol, 8/31)
Flu Shot Mandate A Crucial Public Health Move During Pandemic
With flu season upon us, that is exactly what’s about to happen. COVID-19, which has now killed about 9,000 people in Massachusetts, isn’t going anywhere. And fearing that two simultaneous infectious diseases will overwhelm the state’s health care resources, Massachusetts public health authorities announced an unprecedented order requiring that most students get the influenza vaccine, which has historically been optional. It’s a sensible step in the midst of an already devastating pandemic. (9/2)
The New York Times:
In Spain, Nightlife Is More Important Than Schools
MADRID — Soccer, beaches, bullfights and discos. Spain’s priorities for reopening its economy after months of confinement read like a declaration of the government’s vision for the country. Just days before the school year begins, our politicians have finally decided to tackle what they seem to consider least urgent: the education of millions of students. (David Jiménez, 9/3)
Can Europe Tame The Pandemic’s Next Wave?
"We’re at risk of gambling away our success,” virologist Christian Drosten warned in the German newspaper Die Zeit earlier this month. His message referred to Germany, but it could have been addressed to all of Europe. After beating back COVID-19 in the spring, most of Europe is seeing a resurgence. Spain is reporting close to 10,000 cases a day, more than it had at the height of the outbreak in the spring. France is back to reporting thousands of cases a day. In Germany, numbers are still low, but rising steadily. The pandemic is affecting countries that saw few cases in the spring, such as Greece and Malta, but is also rebounding in places that suffered terribly, including the cities of Madrid and Barcelona. (Kai Kupferschmidt, 9/1)
The Wall Street Journal:
Back To School: No Excuses
The main obstacle to reopening schools isn’t the virus. It’s the teachers’ unions. The virus has been under control in New York City for months, yet the teachers union this week threatened a strike unless classroom instruction was delayed. Mayor Bill de Blasio naturally surrendered, though state law prohibits teachers from striking. (9/2)
COVID-19 Treatment And Diagnosis Research Started In Unlikely Places. As It Should Have.
The news today is filled with reporting on groundbreaking scientific studies, from those diagnosing the symptoms of COVID-19 to those tracking how it spreads to those exploring novel treatments and vaccines. It's clear that we’d have no hope of combating the pandemic and returning to a state of normalcy without the research being done right now. (Adam Larson, 9/2)
The Wall Street Journal:
Allow Us To Present The Pandemic Bill
CBO reports that the lockdown recession and the explosion of spending this year will increase the budget deficit for fiscal 2020, which ends Sept. 30, to $3.3 trillion. At 16% of GDP, this will be the largest annual deficit since 1945, when there was merely a world war. The pandemic has become the fiscal equivalent of a war thanks to the economic lockdowns and the competition by both parties to ease voter anxieties with cash in an election year. (9/2)
Post-Harvey, Current Hurricane Coverage Can Trigger Anxiety, Stress In Children
Although it has been three years since Hurricane Harvey made landfall, many children in our region are still experiencing the impact of that disaster, including the psychological distress that may not always be evident to those around them. Throughout an active hurricane season, children are likely to be reminded of Harvey, and the emotional pain they may feel in response is very real. (Julie Kaplow and Gary Blau, 9/2)