Pandemic: How will we prepare and How do we treat the most vulnerable - SMARTMD Pandemic: How will we prepare and How do we treat the most vulnerable - SMARTMD

The COVID pandemic continues to impact the globe nearly 2 years on. As we move forward there are daily issues to be managed. But, there are also longer-term issues to be addressed. Two of the issues that we tackle are preparedness for future outbreaks and ethical questions around the distribution of the vaccine. 

Our future readiness for a Pandemic

Where are we relative to where we need to be in order to better address future pandemics? Setting aside the politics, we need to address the infrastructure. This interview with Dr. Gottlieb is one of several starting points in a conversation that will be going on for quite some time.

Vaccine Distribution

Cost of care for non-vaccinated patients

When the vaccine is available, what is the financial responsibility of those who choose not to be vaccinated? From high-profile airlines and other companies increasing the share of insurance that employees pay, to positions that hold that medical care from COVID should be the responsibility of the unvaccinated patients. Here is an article about companies charging unvaccinated more for their share of insurance:

Barron’s has an article that pushes the topic of patients paying for their care. More here

Unvaccinated hospitalized with #COVID19 cost the U.S.  $2.3 billion in June and July, from @MarketWatch

Developing nations and boosters

As wealthy nations implement booster shots, there are low-income nations that have yet to receive appropriate levels of COVID vaccine. There are both practical and ethical questions that arose from these two realities.

Boosters in the US

In the US, booster shots are being rolled out for immunocompromised individuals, and eventually will (possibly) be available to the general population. It’s important not to jump the line, particularly given that the actual data for this booster impact has yet to come in. Here is one article on the booster in the US:

Undeveloped nations yet to get the vaccine

1.1% Of people living in low-income countries have received even one dose of a vaccine.” – Paul Blake, from the podcast (7/30/2021). As wealthier nations consider booster shots, a large portion of the global population remains unvaccinated. 

Control of Vaccine production hinders low-income countries

Wealthy nations and vaccine manufacturers in those nations have been reluctant to cede production control that would allow low-income countries to manufacture the vaccines themselves. From debate at the UN to organizers and participants in the Global COVID-19 Summit on 22 September, call are being heard to compel companies to license the manufacturing of vaccines.

As COVAX lags, nations try to coalesce and yet argue

With less than 10% of the low-income nations’ populations vaccinated, The spread of the Delta Variant is continuing on the devastating COVID path. Will wealthy nations choose to share vaccines and production rights? This may be a telling week on this ethical question. More from NYT here