MFA and COVID19 Update – June 13, 2021

Jun 14, 2021 | PDA Blog

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

This week global reported new cases of #COVID19 again rose by 300,000 less than last week’s rise and global deaths were reported at only 73,894 for the week.  That’s a drop of about 50% in the global death rate overall, as more and more countries acquire access to vaccines.  Some 2.25 billion plus vaccines are believed to have been given worldwide, representing about 6.2% of the world’s population as fully vaccinated so far.

A surge of the Delta variant in India, with its bizarre and cruelly disfiguring complicating fungal infection known as mucormycosis or “the black fungus” that we talked about here last month, now even has researchers there increasingly worried that this COVID19 variant might affect the pancreas in a way that results in a diabetic response, rather than requiring diabetes as a pre-existing condition to end up with this dreaded outcome.

All the more reason to #VaccinateTheWorld.

While we are closely watching the global situation, especially in the southern hemisphere where vaccines have been a challenge to get and winter months have now begun, here in the US, COVID19 public health restrictions are loosening despite a few worrisome facts still plaguing us, pun intended.

First, US COVID19 deaths this week, while greatly reduced from previous weeks, are still substantial, with the CDC reporting 347 who died daily on average this week due to the virus.  So, we are down to about one jumbo jet filled with lost souls per day during this public health emergency.  

And the US remains of course without rival, the world’s leader in overall COVID19 deaths at an estimated 596,971 total fatalities according to the CDC’s count, with countless more “long haulers” impacted as well.

And all of this with seemingly no acknowledgment, except among relentless advocates and a very few champions in Congress, that according to the Lancet Commission Study published just 4 months ago now, an astonishing 40% of all of these COVID19 deaths in the US would have been prevented and would still be prevented if we had a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system of universal Healthcare in this country.  

And there has been little or no acknowledgement that putting MFA into place alone would put us on par with all of the other advanced countries in the world, where Healthcare is a human right, not a privileged right for those who can pay the exorbitant and predatory prices that we’ve seen here in the US, which is only getting worse now year after year after year.

While vaccine rates in the US still rank among the highest in the world, and no doubt have caused the precipitous drop in cases and new deaths here overall, we are still seeing vaccine refusal as a significant political issue.  Overall the US is thought at present to be about only 54% fully vaccinated, with less than half of adults living in AL, LA, MS, TN, and WY, all states that went for Trump, having received even a single dose of vaccine to date.  

This is now expected to make us miss the Biden/Harris goal of 70% with at least one dose received by July 4th.  Thanks a lot Rupert Murdoch.

BIPOC communities in the US still remain less vaccinated, and for that we have more than Fox News to blame.  Kaiser Family Foundation reported this week that the share of white Americans vaccinated is still about 1.4 times that of Black Americans, and about 1.3 times that of Latinx Americans.

That is institutional racism clearly reflected in social determinants of health and “Healthcare deserts”, in a form that could not be more pertinent, and for which a solution like Medicare for All could not be more reflective of “the fierce urgency of now” appropriate to the need.

Which should drive the question, how do our elected leaders who don’t support saving money, lots of money, and saving lives, lots and lots of lives, which we know good science supports a Single Payer expanded and improved Medicare for All system would do, how do they sleep at night?

What more needs to be done to show them the pathway to follow the science, not just of epidemiology and virology, but of economics and public health, and get on board, or at least get out of the way, so that we can deal with the ongoing crisis of commercial Healthcare for the privileged, instead of Healthcare for we the general public in America?

And meanwhile we still find ourselves embroiled in fights over policy and process details that in some places can derail the efforts of so many working so hard toward these goals.  Most recently in places like NY or CA, we are trying to achieve parity, financial and social, and yet we are encountering that cement ceiling, time and time again, that brings us to a screeching halt.

So, what then is it that we the advocates and activists for this social justice reform need to do next, to put this in the proper context, with intersectional relevance to the equally threatening crises of climate, racism, poverty, war, and political corruption?  What will it take to catapult political thinking out of the process and personality realm, of stakeholders and linear mindsets, into the substantive policy changes that will bring about what needs to happen now, not years or decades from now, but now, before too many more become casualties to this or the next pandemic?

These are important questions to ask, whether we have the answers at hand or not.


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