MFA and COVID19 Update – April 25, 2021
By Dr. Bill Honigman, PDA Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America
This “Earth Week” worldwide cases of #COVID19 sharply rose once again, mostly due to what is known as the second surge taking place now in India. Over the past week, India has seen almost half of the world’s infections and some 15% of the global COVID deaths.
Having weathered a significant but not devastating first surge last year, India had of late, relaxed some social restrictions such that as of only two months ago cities had begun allowing weddings, cricket matches, and religious festivals once again, which has proven disastrously premature, especially for a country whose Healthcare system routinely fails to meet the needs of its people even during normal times.
A new COVID mutation, B.1.617, which appears to be more contagious and perhaps more resistant to vaccines may be a significant cause, but likely also is the fact that India currently has only about 2% of its population fully vaccinated compared to the US’s 28%.
And here in the US, the “fourth wave” thankfully appears to be leveling off or even decreasing slightly with case numbers and deaths still rising but not as quickly as earlier this month. Either way, we are faced yet again with a stunning 5,693 who died this week alone due to COVID here in the US, that’s an average of 813 per day, and a shockingly tragic 571,471 total who have died in the US since the pandemic began last year.
And that’s with the full realization that 40% of those total deaths, or 228,588 of those mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, and sons who would be alive today if we had had a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system in place to deal with this national public health emergency, as we should have had all along, and should have still to deal with the next pandemic coming our way as predicted by so many climate and public health scientists of note.
Of course, fewer lives would have been lost here as well, if more had followed recommended public health measures, and unfortunately also this week our progress in vaccinations was seriously impeded, as it had been back in February due to extreme weather disrupting supply chains at that time, this time when the CDC suspended use of the J&J vaccine out of an abundance of caution due to rare serious side effects. Thankfully, they have reevaluated its safety and reinstated their recommendation to use that modality, and we can resume a course of vaccinating more now to suppress the virus overall, and in doing so also suppress its many variants once again.
However, a very real concern is how much the J&J vaccine pause has fueled vaccine refusal, and it certainly doesn’t help when you have political figures like Wisconsin’s Republican US Senator Ron Johnson this week displaying his profound disregard for the sanctity of human life and community by flippantly remarking that “what do you care if your neighbor has one or not”. On the other hand, you have responsible voices like those of Drs. Walensky and Fauci pointing out that there are still “unsettling gaps” in the US population vaccination coverage, all of which tell us we have miles to go yet to reach “herd” or “community” immunity.
And all of that of course, as we have noted here now week after week, is against the background that the US continues to fail at all other forms of COVID and non-COVID Healthcare, putting us all even more at risk, with chronic medical conditions poorly treated, especially in our “Healthcare deserts” of rural and inner cities, and especially in our communities of color.
And once again, why is there no stronger voice coming from state and federal leaders for a system that would provide Healthcare as a Human Right to all living in America, not as a commodity, subject to the whims of the profit-first commercial interests, and opportunists especially in big insurance and big pharma who continue to line their own pockets while so many of us suffer and die, as we can so clearly see now at this time of critical need?
Where is the leadership at the national, state, and local level to bring clarity and sanity to this global calamity? And who are the ones that can think globally and act locally to be the change we need now, and for any hope of a future for humans and all living things still on this planet?
The struggle continues.