Celebrate the Facts!
8/22/2021 0 Comments
Focus on achieving herd immunity in the United States is laudable, and it is possible through a combination of infections and vaccinations. Unfortunately, the new Delta variant has driven estimates to as high as 80% of the population, and future variants might be even more virulent. Numbers of infections drive the emergence of mutations and variants, and with modern airline travel, a condition in Uruguay or Myanmar is as problematic as one in Arkansas. Unfortunately, the United States appears to be ignoring the looming horror of not vaccinating the rest of the world.
Infotainment hate jockeys on evening talk shows masquerading as new programs have found COVID vaccination controversies a gold mine. Conservative shows falsely conflate mask use and vaccinations with personal liberty and the American way of life. Liberal shows poke fun at cartoon punching bags such as Congressional clowns Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz and their unholy preaching about COVID. Unfortunately, neither polemic contributes to the greater good of the country.
There is some truth that the eligible unvaccinated in the United States are freeloaders on the herd immunity concept. Unfortunately, those populations are now paying an enormous cost, particularly in deep-red states in the South where only the medical-industrial complex and funeral industries profit. The consequences are compelling people in those areas to vaccinate. The sad benefit of rampant COVID is that the illness creates antibodies that will ultimately help the population achieve herd immunity.
The COVID virus appears to be becoming more potent and more virulent. The first Delta variant case appeared in December 2020, and by the end of July 2021, the Delta variant was the cause of more than 80% of new United States COVID cases. Identified variants appear to transmit more easily, be more deadly, and even cause infection among vaccinated people.
The Biden administration is balancing significant political factors in vaccine management. There is the most recent guidance for booster shots with apparently the same formulation as the original doses, eating into the availability of vaccines and the possibility of providing further allocations to other countries.
About 32% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and about 24% is fully vaccinated. People have obtained about 5 billion doses globally, and about 34 million people get a shot each day.
Not surprisingly, only about 1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. High-income countries use those low-income countries as sources of raw materials, cheap labor, and markets for exports, so they are part of the wealth-creating engine for rich nations and particularly for rich people. Unfortunately, that relationship is asymmetric, and this shows in the allocations of vaccines.
The unvaccinated portion of the world serves as a source of new variants of COVID, possibly more deadly and transmittable than the current variants, so vaccinating those populations is as vital as vaccine drives in Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. In addition, with modern airline travel allowing the worldwide distribution of these variants in hours, not even days, worldwide herd immunity is imperative, and in the interest of every person in the world and the United States, regardless of political, tribal affiliation.
Since the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the United States has maintained hegemony over the Caribbean and South America, manipulating governments as discussed in previous investigations, using the area as a source of cheap labor, raw materials, and a primary export for the United States goods and services.
So the unvaccinated population of the world is the breeding ground for variants, and the remainder of the unvaccinated in the United States are likely so entrenched in politically-driven opposition to such and will be nearly impossible to convince. However, many countries in the remainder of the world remain in need of doses with populations yearning for vaccines.
Such relationship does not extend to care with the population of Latin America as immense numbers of unvaccinated people remain, suffering, dying, and serving as a source for mutations. The population of Latin America and the Caribbean is about 660 million, about double the United States population of about 333 million. Regardless of history, economic relations, or the right thing to do, it is in the interest of the United States to vaccinate these people and the remaining unvaccinated in the remainder of the world.
Particularly outstanding in the data are the low vaccination rates in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras, all countries with tremendous outmigration of people to other countries, contributing to the United States policy-driven and media-manufactured ‘border crisis.’ Venezuela and Nicaragua are countries currently sanctioned by the United States but regardless of the United States' enmity towards these governments, withholding vaccine support from these populations is both inhumane and destructive of the interests of the United States. Lack of vaccine support for Honduras and Guatemala, long client-states of the United States, is harder to understand.
So far, the Biden Administration has distributed 36 million doses to Latin America, about one-third of total United States donations. Of course, the America First crowd would have an issue with this donation, let alone adequate donations to help Latin America achieve herd immunity, and likely that has informed policy decisions about the matter. Regardless, a good president needs to demonstrate leadership qualities, including doing the moral thing, not just the politically expedient thing.
There is a concept called vaccine diplomacy, where strategic competitors extend their brand into other nations by donating or subsidizing vaccines. China has given about 1.5 million Sinovac doses to El Salvador, 100,000 Sinopharm doses to Bolivia, and 500,000 Sinopharm doses to Venezuela. Russia has made an undisclosed number of Sputnik doses to Nicaragua. In cases of direct purchase, Russia and China have delivered their vaccines at prices significantly cheaper than United States vaccine rates. China is also providing $1 billion in financing to Latin American countries to help them purchase Chinese vaccines.
The vaccination of the remaining unvaccinated, regardless of geographic location, is imperative. The president of the United States has broad authority under the Defense Production Act of 1950, which allows the president, through executive order, to direct private companies to prioritize orders from the federal government. To bolster domestic production, the president may offer loans or loan guarantees to companies, subject to Congress's appropriation, make purchases or purchase commitments, and install equipment in government or private factories. Such direction is all compensable by equitable adjustment procedures that allow for reasonable profit on such production.
Given the urgency of the matter and ultimate protection of the population of the United States, such direction seems not just recommended but urgent. Moreover, as COVID appears to be an ongoing global health issue, the construction of new facilities and distribution capacity worldwide is not just prudent but necessary.
Michael Donnelly investigates societal concerns with an untribal approach - to limit the discussion to the facts derived from primary sources so the reader can make more informed decisions.