Are We Doing Our Best to Save Lives?

I was watching an interview with Health and Human Services Secretay Alex Asar on TV. The conversation was mostly about the rollout of the COViD-19 vaccines. However, when he asked about the new treatments, my ears perked up. The treatments that put President Trump right back n his feet after being infected. Secretary Asar said the combination of monoclonal Antibodies, Remdesivir, and steroids were now widely available. However, in many cases, he lamented doctors weren’t using them early enough—this problem-centered on monoclonal antibodies. Waiting till a patient ends up in the hospital may be too late to be effective.

Confirmation of this problem wasn’t long in coming. On Face the Nation, Eli Lily CEO David Ricks complained his company’s monoclonal antibody treatment was piling up unused in warehouses. The monoclonal antibody regimen needs infusion centers. We’ve done this for chemotherapy for decades. Of course, they take place in different places. Ricks implored people at high-risk testing positive or with symptoms to ask their doctor about the treatment’s availability. Do we have to ask for the treatment the President received?

This revelation was dismaying. We have known almost from the pandemic’s beginning the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are the ones most at risk. The vast majority of these people are under a doctor’s care. How hard is it to start the regimen as soon as someone reports symptoms or tests positive? The doctors should know where the patient can get treated and send them there. If it isn’t available, the doctors need to determine why not and push to rectify the situation. The at-risk are the ones jamming the hospital ICUs and, unfortunately, dying.

Back in March, I posted my plan to get us through the pandemic. (see my series on CVID-19) A big part of the program was contact between doctors and at-risk patients. It even contained a survey to determine the amount of help needed to improve patient safety. A follow up to those patients could’ve alerted them to report positive tests or symptoms immediately. A video-appointment would’ve resulted in the start of a Trump-like regimen when it could do the most good. Unfortunately, this contact program never happened.

It’s still not too late to do this. We can avoid many deaths before the vaccines take hold. It will take months before the at-risk are vaccinated. We should try to get as many people over the finish line as possible. We have a bridge in monoclonal antibodies, and we must use it.

Obviously, the sooner we inoculate the vulnerable and those who serve them, the sooner we get back to normal. We know a certain percentage of the populace is already infected. Likely, those previously having the virus now have immunity. Experts think the protection should last at least a year. 10% to 30% of Americans could be in this category. If they would step aside, the still at-risk could be protected earlier, saving more lives. For instance, President Trump has survived COVID-19. Many are wondering when he will set an example by taking the shot. A good example is for him to forego the vaccine for now. A person with diabetes needs it more.

Probably the worst idea to be put forth is to give vaccine priority to “people of color.” The claim is the pandemic has hit these communities the hardest gets things backward. These communities have a greater degree of co-morbidity. People of color” are also probably over-represented among essential workers, but these workers get early inoculation. The idea is to prevent as many deaths or serious illnesses as possible. We should put those most at risk and those serving them at the top of the list regardless of color. If Blacks or Latinos are in these groups, they’ll be getting the shots early in any case.

Yet, we have people such as Dr. Chris Breyerof Johns Hopkins saying,” But putting communities of color ahead of other groups for the vaccine is good public health practice.” Putting a healthy Black 20yr. old ahead of an 80-year-old cancer survivor is suitable for public Health? Never-the-less the Sacramento Bee reports, “California’s Vaccine Plan will Prioritize Black and Latinos, among others.” Does Lebron James need vaccination before your granny?

Can we get away from the idea, just because someone claims “systemic racisim,” you must counter it in every case? This assertion is tough to justify where lives are at stake. To jump the vaccine line just because you’re Black is putting victimization above common sense.

We should always do our best to uplift those left behind. More people contributing their best will make for a better America. The claim that Blacks are treated so horribly in the U.S. they need to be put first over others in greater danger doesn’t mesh with reality. Most people aren’t aware there are more Black immigrants from Africa today than were ever brought over during slavery. That’s because they see things differently. Maybe this isn’t such a horrible place after all.

If we zero in on the genuinely at-risk, it’s possible to get back to near normal in a few months. That’s good news for everybody, especially the vulnerable. Let’s put our best efforts into that endeavor.

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