MFA and COVID19 Update – February 14, 2021

Feb 15, 2021

By Dr. Bill Honigman, PDA Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America

This week worldwide total cases of #COVID19 continued to rise more slowly than in weeks and months past, with now over 108 million total cases but over 171 million total vaccines now that have been given worldwide.  About 47 million of those vaccines were given just this last week alone which was 15 million more vaccines than had been given in the week prior.

Globally, as here in the U.S., the race of vaccine distribution against the prevalence of the new more contagious coronavirus strains, as well as willful public health noncompliance and vaccine hesitancy, continues.

The downward trend in new cases thankfully exists here in the U.S. as well, with only 662,000 new cases added this week, and only 22,037 deaths due to COVID19 reported this last week for an average of only about 3100 US COVID deaths per day, which is down from the 4,000 per day just a couple of weeks ago.

The vaccination rate has picked up in this country with over 50 million total doses given so far reported and 2,382,672 given just this last week.  And the Biden/Harris administration announced some progress resolving the supply chain issues with vaccine now expected to have quantities sufficient to vaccinate the entire population by the end of July if not sooner, although as we all know the duration of immunity for this modality due to its being a new contagion and new approach to its containment, is still in question.

And what of the problematic rollouts of vaccinations?  Have the issues of getting past cultural and technological barriers been resolved?  Are we getting vaccine to those truly at risk, or just to those more easily defined perhaps by age or infirmity?

A study released this week by the Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era had many conclusions that might apply.  Most notably that while tens of thousands have needlessly died due to Trump’s mismanagement of the COVID19 crisis, even preceding the pandemic his cutbacks to public health more generally with such actions as undermining Medicare, Medicaid, and insurances available on the state exchanges of the Affordable Care Act, and his trillion dollar tax cuts which took away resources that would otherwise have paid for social welfare programs rather than handouts to the already wealthy in this country, have in fact killed many more.

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, physician-researcher, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, and a member of the Lancet Commission points out, “…the United States policies had so thoroughly failed to provide the conditions to protect health that 461,000 people who died in 2018 would have survived if our death rate were the same as other healthy nations.”

So the commission’s conclusions included as we’ve been calling for here since at least the outbreak of COVID19 and in anticipation of more pandemics to come with rising global temperatures, not just a calling for a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system for the U.S. and #UniversalHealthcare where ALL of the people get ALL of the care, but also the commission called for “…repealing Trump’s tax cuts and raising taxes on the wealthy, slashing military spending, a Green New Deal and ending subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, free and universal school meals, raising the federal minimum wage, and the elimination of patents and trade restrictions that impede global access to vital generic drugs.”  I couldn’t agree more.

The consequences of not doing these things, frankly with or without the Trumpublicans still in the mix, is bleak beyond measure.  

Already the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates more than 600,000 Americans will have died from COVID19 by June 1st.  And, they note that if 95% of Americans simply started wearing masks in the next week, 34,000 lives could be saved.  But again, all of this is against the backdrop of the now 981 cases reported of the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant found in 37 states this last week, according to the CDC.

It is far past time we make all of these things a reality, especially Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.  With so many lives in the balance, this couldn’t be any more about the fierce urgency of now.


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