The Covid-19 vaccine could kill on the black market, experts warn.
The much-criticized implementation by the Trump administration laid the groundwork for a scenario in which the rich and politically committed use their money and power to reduce and get vaccinated before anyone else, they said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already threatened to impose fines of up to $ 1 million and revoke the licenses of doctors, nurses and others who do not follow state and federal vaccine distribution guidelines, which currently prioritize inoculating frontline health workers. care and residents of nursing homes.
In Miami, there have been reports of large hospital donors receiving the first crack in the vaccine and in New York for tycoons flying to their friends in Florida to be vaccinated with doses destined for a retirement home.
And in Colorado, some teachers are crying after nurses and educators in wealthier neighborhoods of public schools and private schools were first vaccinated.
Arthur Kaplan of New York University’s Grossman Medical School and one of the best bioethicists in the country said the complaint was likely to be heard much more as the divide grew between people who didn’t have the vaccine and those who didn’t.
“We hear about some politicians, some trustees of big hospitals, and others are firing health workers and the elderly,” Kaplan said. “I hear that too [drug manufacturing and distribution] companies say that as soon as government contracts are implemented, they will make vaccines a priority for themselves. “
The result will be higher prices for everyone else, Kaplan said.
“Everything that is seen as life-saving, life-saving and scarce creates black markets,” Kaplan said, echoing remarks he made in an interview last month.
The shortage helped turn toilet paper and masks into gold at the start of the pandemic and is likely to do the same for vaccines, making them particularly attractive to thieves and foreign copyists, other experts say.
“The danger is that there is an existing market for unregulated drugs,” said Michael Einhorn, president of medical provider Dealmed. “And the point is that the products will be imported from foreign countries, which may not have as strict regulations as the United States – where the product can be diverted, sold abroad and imported into the United States.”
Jonathan Cushing of Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, issued a similar warning in November.
“The vaccine is likely to have a high ‘street value’, making government supplies an attractive target for theft and diversion, unless appropriate safeguards are in place in supply chains,” Cushing wrote.
Cushing said in an email that he had not seen “any problems on the US black market so far,” but the potential was there.
“There have been reports of non-standard or counterfeit vaccines already being produced in India, as well as counterfeit hand sanitizers in the United States that are emerging during the pandemic,” he said. “We’ve also seen people using links to access drugs that are said to be therapeutic agents, such as hydroxychloroquine.”
“I would argue that much of the planning for distribution in the United States was done too late in the day, and the lack of guidelines and clear eligibility criteria for vaccines is probably the main reason for many of the problems currently facing the United States.” he added. ” And subsequently, this lack of planning creates opportunities for people to jump in line and use their position to get vaccinated in front of others. “
Dr. Sadia Khan, an epidemiologist at the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Feinberg, agreed, adding that the lack of a coherent vaccine distribution plan is clear evidence that the federal government has not learned from its failure to speed up tests as a means of slowing the spread of the virus.
“The lack of any federal infrastructure in counties and states leads to a mitigated catastrophe in addition to inefficient allocation,” Hahn said. “The distribution of vaccines is Marmot Day from what Covid-19 testing was at the beginning of the pandemic. These significant delays are likely to lead to more preventable hospitalizations and deaths. “
President-elect Joe Biden, who joined the chorus of critics by throwing President Donald Trump’s Warp Speed operation for failing to meet his 20 million vaccine target by the end of 2020, has vowed to “move the skies and land ”to accelerate the pace of distribution.
Biden also pledged to invoke the Defense Manufacturing Act, which allows the president to force private companies to prioritize the production of certain national security items.
Teachers in Colorado were pushed into the background this week after the State Department of Public Health and the Environment surprised teachers by suddenly announcing on Wednesday that it was giving priority to first responders and seniors. The announcement came just a week after Gov. Jared Polis put teachers on the state’s list of priority vaccines.
By this time, school nurses and health workers in affluent neighborhoods of public schools such as the Cherry Creek school district in the suburbs of Denver had already been vaccinated, and several teachers in private schools such as the British Stanley Primary School in Denver, NBC News has learned.
Asked by two private school teachers who post photos online of them holding vaccination cards after taking their photos last week at a local pharmacy, the head of Britain’s primary school, Stanley Sumant Bhatt, said in an email that he did not organize vaccinations for his employees.
“While teachers are already in category 1B, we have internally announced that they are currently below the line in this category and therefore” NOT ready “for the vaccine at the moment,” Bhat wrote. “We are in frequent contact with our independent school network and our public health partners to determine when we can develop a thoughtful plan to make vaccinations available to our teachers and staff.”
As the federal government leaves it to local authorities to distribute the vaccine, Kaplan said the likelihood of being offered a shot at a non-priority person is increased.
Kaplan’s advice to resolve this ethical dilemma?
“We think the employee should get the vaccine,” wrote Kaplan and fellow ethicist Kyle Ferguson. “What goals would contribute to rejection?” Those who feel the force of the dilemma suggest that their refusal will free up scarce resources, that the released dose will end up in the hands of someone in need more urgently. But this is doubtful. The vaccine will probably not leave the institution. “