News & Politics

Should Skin Color Determine Who Gets the COVID-19 Vaccine First?

AP Photo/Hans Pennink

With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for the general public just days away, a critical question has emerged that public health officials, policymakers, and ethicists have all been wrestling with.

Who gets the vaccine first?

Since it’s generally agreed that the vaccine should first be distributed to the most vulnerable populations — those most at risk for serious illness or death — first in line are healthcare workers, since they are in constant contact with the sick.

But when it comes to the millions of doses that would be left after taking care of hospital workers, who goes first? The most vulnerable are older Americans with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or pulmonary diseases like emphysema. Statistics show these elderly people have a far higher mortality rate than younger people if they contract COVID-19.

But even a clear-cut priority for elderly people can be twisted into something racist if you’re the New York Times and other liberals.

The Spectator USA:

Decades of medical norms hold that the vaccine should be distributed with the goal of saving lives, and therefore it should go to the sick and elderly who are the only ones at serious risk of actually dying from the virus. But that’s a very old-fashioned way of looking at things, the Times reveals. The most cutting-edge ethicists know that what really matters is the skin color of who would get the vaccine. And because employees are a less white group than the elderly at risk of dying, they win:

The Times quotes a medical ethicist who basically wants to throw old people under the bus.

‘“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.”

Assuming that healthy white essential workers would be sent to the back of the line, does that mean that healthy black essential workers would also have to wait?

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.”’

Yeah — old white people have lived long enough so, you white-haired guys just have to take your chances and hope for the best.

The Times goes even further, arguing that any white workers should be penalized. Teachers shouldn’t be given priority in getting the vaccine because, you guessed it, the color of their skin. “Teachers have middle-class salaries, are very often white, and they have college degrees,” Schmidt said. “Of course they should be treated better, but they are not among the most mistreated of workers.”

So we’ve gone from “essential” workers — in an ever-growing list of industries — to deciding to give the vaccine to those who have been “mistreated.”

The Spectator US‘s Cockburn:

Cockburn feels inspired, liberated even. It’s all just so easy! Instead of some complex, burdensome calculation based on necessity and societal value, we can sort people into good and bad based on appearance. This is very progressive. And best of all, it can be applied everywhere.

Indeed, it can. And I guarantee it will be.

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