ONErespond to all urgency expressed through new Omicron variant was originally identified in southern Africa and is now present in more than 30 countries, including the United States, President Biden announced plan. The authorities say they are “withdrawing all stops” but their plan is frankly too dire and will not stop the spread of Omicron.
Biden’s plan is certainly science-based and inescapable, but it’s not just an adjustment of what we’re doing, with limited success.
The first knee jerk reaction is travel ban from southern Africa. That may be politically appropriate, but it is ineffective and discriminatory. CDC will now require a negative test within 24 hours of departure, which could potentially pick up some more missed cases in the previous 72-hour period. Biden has also expanded airline and airport mask regulation—no surprise.
Within our borders, Biden will continue to urge vaccinations, but less so. He wants children vaccinated and adults boosted. We agree, but want that result will not be achieved. Maybe his idea of a booster vaccination campaign will work, but nonetheless many vaccinated people are eager for boosters. Were any of our previous Covid vaccine campaigns particularly effective? Family vaccination clinics are great, but that assumes families want to get vaccinated.
The real problem is that too many Americans still refuse, although Omicron seems to have convinced at least 30% of those who refused. review the stab, as Biden noted in his remarks Thursday. His new plan will require insurance companies to reimburse home testing kits. Again, there’s nothing wrong here, but it’s hard to see unvaccinated people rushing to get tested, notify their contacts, and self-isolate.
The president’s lack of boldness may simply be political fatigue. He is tired of every public health measure being greeted with howls of protest and legal challenges put before hostile judges. Courts blocked two of Biden’s signature vaccine initiatives — OSHA’s vaccine or testing regulation and CMS’s vaccine requirement for healthcare facilities. Both of those initiatives rest on solid legal foundations, but not by judges with a political ax to sharpen.
The bottom line is that Americans are nearly insurmountable during a pandemic, refusing to do the simplest things like wearing a mask or getting stabbed. But Biden must continue to fight for America’s health, and to end the global pandemic.
“Ironically, Omicron has just caused the WTO to postpone a ministerial meeting on the renunciation of intellectual property rights during the pandemic.”
We need a 21NS century equivalent to the post-World War II Marshall Plan to protect Americans and the world against the present-day variant of Omicron. Here are four big ideas the president can still work on.
First, we need a much smarter travel policy. Biden’s travel ban announced from southern Africa was late and spongy. It’s too late because Omicron has been circulated in the US and it is breaking because visitors from Europe and elsewhere are still allowed to travel. Pick-and-choose travel policies between countries are not effective. Instead, we should require all incoming international travelers (including US citizens) to be fully vaccinated, and screened before and after arrival, possibly with a quarantine period. . It is amazing that 51 infected people were able to board a flight from South Africa to the Netherlands. And Biden could also make travel in the country safer. Just as the president can legally require a mask at an airport, he can legally require vaccinations for all international and interstate traffic (as in Canada). This means that everyone boarding a plane, train or bus across state lines or national borders should be fully vaccinated.
Second, the CDC urgently needs to provide technical guidance, models, and funding for vaccine certification systems, like those already used in Europe, the United Kingdom, and Israel. Vaccination passports provide authentic proof of vaccination for entry into crowded indoor environments, such as airports, workplaces, restaurants, or dining and entertainment venues. Cities, states and the private sector can use verifiable vaccine credentials with up-to-date (fully enhanced) claims to help keep us all safer.
Third, CDC should update the definition of “fully vaccinated” to require a third or second dose of J&J mRNA (mixed or combined with mRNA dose). Although the evidence is not exhaustive, we have good reason to be concerned that multiple protein mutations in the Omicron variant will reduce vaccine-induced immunity. That means boosters are urgently needed, and for all Americans who qualify.
Fourth, and most important, the United States must lead in global immunization. We don’t know for sure how SARS-CoV-2 mutated to become the Omicron variant, but the extremely low vaccination rates in sub-Saharan Africa certainly play a role. Viruses mutate much faster when there are many susceptible hosts. That’s why vaccinating the world is so important to America’s national security and economic interests. Biden’s plan simply demonstrates “a continued commitment to universal immunization.”
It is true that our commitment to providing vaccines to developing countries is greater than that of any other country, but it is still regrettably flawed. To date, we have committed 1.2 billion doses and delivered about 270 million won—There are close 11 billion doses needed to immunize 70% of the world’s population. We also seem to have magical thoughts on how to get vaccinations into people’s arms. You can’t just deliver a large shipment to a dock and expect everyone to receive it. Lower income countries have the same logistical problems as we do, only more. They need an end-to-end vaccine infrastructure, including cold storage, reliable transportation, trained vaccinators, and health education. Unlike past leaders of the United States, we have not invested in helping health systems deliver the shots.
The Western model of donating vaccines to charity is also outdated. Donations always come too little and too late. We must force American pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna to share their vaccine technology now. Ironically, Omicron has just prompted the World Trade Organization to postpone a ministerial meeting on the renunciation of intellectual property rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries are calling for a vaccine formula, including a WHO-backed mRNA hub in South Africa.
In short, as the global economy faces a $7 trillion loss in economic activity due to the pandemic, the United States shouldn’t get too proud of its $9 billion contribution to the fight against COVID- 19 of the world.
The Omicron variant is a test of our nation’s resolve to finally take COVID-19 seriously. We tried everything – masking, adjusting distances and even locking the whole thing. The pandemic continues to flare up again.
Our only real tool now is vaccination — at home and abroad. The vaccine eradicated smallpox and nearly eliminated polio. America and many other countries have eliminated dreaded childhood diseases such as chickenpox and measles. To those who say we can’t contain COVID-19 through vaccination before the Grinch Pandemic steals any more Christmases, all we can say is your lack of imagination and need. set here. President Biden, the ball is still in your court.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/bidens-new-omicron-winter-plan-for-america-simply-isnt-enough?source=articles&via=rss Biden’s new Omicron winter plan for America simply isn’t enough