With vaccination rates falling sharply below 70 percent, most experts say the need to reach herd immunity continues, with ongoing viral transmission providing more opportunities for the evolution of dangerous species such as the delta. Inequality in public health is not just a problem for low-income and minority communities – they will allow the quail to flourish and continue to cause future epidemics until we address them.
The healthcare industry is taking notice. Sanjay Shetty, president of Steward Healthcare Systems, said in a Race to Seven World Virtual Webinar on Wednesday, “The last year and a half has been a pivotal moment for us. Partnership with Pfizer What has exacerbated the epidemic from its earliest days is the fact that in many insecure communities, lack of access to reliable health care providers means that many people do not know where to go if they Feel sick
Shetty explained that Steward, a for-profit healthcare network owned by the largest physician in the United States, removed all barriers to strengthen its hospitals and clinics in the wake of the quake. Telehealth has made it possible for people to have more access to basic doctors and nurse practitioners. Predictive tools make it easy to know which communities need more resources to combat the increase in infections. Partnering with local organizations made it easier for non-English speakers to see a doctor.
These efforts have created more avenues for providing information to small populations, which is not only an important part of solving today’s epidemic but also preventing the next one.
“Access to good information is everything.” That’s the lesson taught by Timothy Callaghan, a public health expert at Texas A&M University. “It’s not that people are actively trying to be unaware – even those who are choosing not to be vaccinated are trying to look at this information to help them make that decision. Get help. ”
Public health experts have struggled to contain the flood of misinformation. When a vaccine was first announced, Callaghan and colleagues knew that there were four groups that were reluctant to vaccinate: minorities (especially African Americans), conservatives, rural Americans, and distrust of scientists.
In some cases, efforts to persuade these communities have paid off. Callaghan said the Biden administration invested in outreach and vaccine communication programs for minorities and was very effective.
The problem is that as vaccination progressed, so did the vaccine itself. Kalaghan said those who were previously for the vaccine are now against it, especially conservatives. And a big concern is that hesitation will go beyond COVID, and encourage the spread of diseases such as measles.
There is no easy solution to this problem except to keep working to convince people, through reliable personal sources. “You really need people from these communities,” said Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at New York University and Bellevue Hospital and a member of the Biden Harris Transitions Cove 19 Advisory Board. “Black and brown doctors and nurses have stepped in and done so. We have not seen this level of effort by some of these conservative communities.
Gounder thinks there is a tool that needs to be deployed more widely: the order of vaccination. “For many people where vaccination is notorious, they provide this kind of mandate cover.” If someone needs to be vaccinated to go to work, they can end the political debate altogether.
But the United States’ efforts to bridge these gaps do not matter if the rest of the world does not improve its public health. Gounder believes the United States needs to be exemplified in issues such as booster. He said that with Americans receiving 100 million booster shots, the message could be sent to other countries. And if a country like India decides to follow suit, it could benefit 1/10 of the world’s 1.4 billion people. “These are the consequences of the flow of policies.”
Of course, that means enabling the rest of the world to access the vaccine. Caroline Rowan, Pfizer’s chief sustainability officer, emphasized that her company was selling covid vaccines to low-income countries at unprofitable prices. Gounder would also like to see the world help these countries build their own regional vaccine development sites – for cod and other diseases.
All four panelists hope that US and global public health funding will go beyond the boom and bust cycle, with lawmakers spending money and resources only on things when there is an emergency. There is no hope of avoiding another epidemic if the money for these measures dries up when the current measures are exhausted.
“If there’s a lesson to be learned from this epidemic: yes, we need public health funding right now,” Kalaghan said. “But we can’t take it away from 2025, 2035, 2045. Otherwise, the next time an epidemic strikes again, we’ll be flat.”