MFA and COVID19 Update – Nov 7th 2021
By Dr. Bill Honigman, Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America
This week, world new cases and deaths due to #COVID19 continue with varying trends, with leveling or declining status in most of the developed world, but still some worrisome increases in Russia and across parts of Europe, where authorities are blaming regional vaccine refusal as the primary cause.
The global population fully vaccinated is now estimated to be at 40%, and the total global death toll is now an estimated 5,045,000 lost lives due to COVID19.
The United States, is now at 753,625 total deaths due to the pandemic, with 301,450 of those lost lives accountable to mismanagement and poor leadership, and especially to having no effective system in place for prioritizing the needs of the public for our public health. And, every one of those 301,450 lost souls would be alive today if we had the Healthcare system that we should have, and the system that the overwhelming majority of Americans want, #SinglePayer expanded and improve #MedicareForAll.
And our vaccination rate in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center is thought now to be at 58.99% of our total population now fully vaccinated, which is up 0.42% from last week’s 58.57%. That’s ahead of Turkey at 58.86%, but now just behind El Salvador, Monaco, and Greece. That makes us once again #51 this week in world ranking, once again not #1, not #2, not even in the top ten or twenty, #51. We’re 51, we’re 51.
And the worst state in the US this week, at #51 with DC included, is once again, you guessed it, West Virginia at 41.07%, that’s up from last week’s 41.01% of its pitifully protected population vaccinated, and once again pitifully represented by US Senator Joe “ready to fight inflation but apparently not COVID” Manchin.
This week also, as we wait to see what progressives in Congress can extract from the jaws of their neoliberal counterparts on the Build Back Better Act, including a deal struck by US Senator Ron Wyden of OR in the reconciliation package on drug price negotiations that apparently even US Senator Kyrsten Sinema of AZ has signed off on, we are also awaiting the roll outs of vaccines for more school age children, and what new health security that will bring to anxious families and extended families across this country.
And further technology now from pharma giants Merck and Pfizer, is being promoted in this fight against COVID19 with new anti-viral drugs, molnupiravir, the older drug from Merck, and Paxlovid, this week’s addition from Pfizer, which if started within 5 days of the onset of symptoms can reduce deaths from the virus by up to 90%, especially among high-risk individuals.
This is being touted by many as a “game-changer” for the pandemic, while only a few talking heads have the courage to point out that these drugs are only as good as our collective ability to make them universally available to those who need them.
As Dr. Celine Gounder, epidemiologist for the City of New York, pointed out on MSNBC on Friday, “…a major obstacle in [these new anti-viral drugs] having a significant impact is giving them very early in the course of infection…for them to really be game-changers, we really need a revolution in our health system…you need to be able to walk into your corner drug store, get tested and screened that it’s safe to give you the prescription, with no additional visits, no co-pays, and free if you don’t have insurance.”
Or, as Dr. Vin Gupta, critical care specialist said on MSNBC on Friday, speaking to universality both domestic and global for these new drugs, “…the big issue here will be equity and distribution.”
So, how do we reconcile this need for technology and human infrastructure with the resistance to universality perpetrated by commercial interests in this country despite what we were all taught to accept as our credo, to promote the general welfare, and in doing so aspire to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
If we are allowed to follow the science of public health experts and economists, universal Healthcare, where ALL of the people get ALL of the care, COVID care and non-COVID care alike, can be achieved at a lower cost than what we are spending now and with better outcomes, meaning fewer preventable deaths, under a Single Payer expanded and improved Medicare for All system. Is that not the solution that’s as plain as the noses on all of our faces?
For as author and political analyst John Nichols laid out in his book, The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party, in a brief interview with US Senator Bernie Sanders of VT back in 2019 as they discussed the ensuing presidential primaries of 2020 while visiting the birthplace of the late Vice President Henry Wallace together, when he asked Bernie if in effect, wasn’t he trying to renew Wallace’s fight for economic justice and FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights? Bernie, echoing FDR himself, replied with among other things, “What does freedom mean? If today you have no healthcare, how free are you, really?” And further said, “Healthcare is a human right, OK? Then the US has got to join every other major country in guaranteeing that.”
And our now shared national tragedy of COVID19 couldn’t have made this any clearer. With vaccinations being the only part of COVID care that has been at least partly universal, we should all see now that we have miles to go before we can feel safe and before we can be free.
The struggle continues.