When deciding how to distribute the new COVID vaccines, priority should be afforded to those who are most physically vulnerable to the virus, starting with the elderly. This seems like a rather obvious position that shouldn’t need to be explained or defended. But, as it turns out, we must explain and defend it because some of our “health experts” have other ideas.
A recent article in the New York Times titled, “The Elderly vs. Essential Workers: Who Should Get the Coronavirus Vaccine First?” features several experts and academics who advocate for, what can only be described as, a form of racial eugenics. From the article:
With the coronavirus pandemic surging and initial vaccine supplies limited, the United States faces a hard choice: Should the country’s immunization program focus in the early months on the elderly and people with serious medical conditions, who are dying of the virus at the highest rates, or on essential workers, an expansive category encompassing Americans who have borne the greatest risk of infection?
Remember that “essential” workers includes Walmart cashiers and fast food employees, many of whom are young and at a less serious risk from the virus than the elderly. Of course we should not be prioritizing a healthy 18-year-old who works at Burger King over an elderly person who belongs to the age bracket which has borne by far the brunt of COVID casualties. But that’s not what these experts say.
“To me the issue of ethics is very significant, very important for this country,” Dr. Peter Szilagyi, a committee member and a pediatrics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said at the time, “and clearly favors the essential worker group because of the high proportion of minority, low-income and low-education workers among essential workers.”
What? Why should essential workers be favored because there’s a high proportion of minorities? Why should that factor into the equation at all? Who cares about their race? Besides, there are a lot of elderly black people, too, last I checked. But again, who cares? Are we really going to decide who to save based on their race? According to these experts: yes, that’s exactly what we should do
Marc Lipsitch, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, argued that teachers should not be included as essential workers, if a central goal of the committee is to reduce health inequities. “Teachers have middle-class salaries, are very often white, and they have college degrees,” he said. “Of course they should be treated better, but they are not among the most mistreated of workers.”
This seems like bad news for teachers, who are just a little too white, says Marc Lipsitch. But don’t worry. Economist Elise Gould says that teachers maybe could still be prioritized, not for their own sake, but because it would be helpful to “black and brown” people:
Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, disagreed. Teachers not only ensure that children don’t fall further behind in their education, she said, but are also critical to the work force at large. “When you talk about disproportionate impact and you’re concerned about people getting back into the labor force, many are mothers, and they will have a harder time if their children don’t have a reliable place to go,” she said. “And if you think generally about people who have jobs where they can’t telework, they are disproportionately Black and brown. They’ll have more of a challenge when child care is an issue.”
All of this is bizarre and horrifying enough, but we have saved the best for last:
Harald Schmidt, an expert in ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said that it is reasonable to put essential workers ahead of older adults, given their risks, and that they are disproportionately minorities. “Older populations are whiter,” Dr. Schmidt said. “Society is structured in a way that enables them to live longer. Instead of giving additional health benefits to those who already had more of them, we can start to level the playing field a bit.”
Level the playing field, he says. That is certainly one way of looking at the utter decimation of our elderly population. It is the way a deranged, sociopathic lunatic looks at it. The fact that these are the sorts of people who call themselves “health experts” should explain why so many of us are so skeptical of them.
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