- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2020

An ethics and health policy expert from the University of Pennsylvania says officials should consider delaying the coronavirus vaccine for aging white populations to racially “level the playing field.”

Harald Schmidt made the comments in a recent piece by The New York Times exploring the various trade-offs foisted upon society by the contagion.

“Older populations are whiter,” Mr. Schmidt told the newspaper. “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.”

The article titled “The Elderly vs. Essential Workers: Who Should Get the Coronavirus Vaccine First?” explored the conundrum faced by U.S. health care professionals tasked with inoculating a population of roughly 330 million people.

Mr. Schmidt encouraged officials to rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “social vulnerability index” as a procedural roadmap.

The index “includes 15 measures derived from the census, such as overcrowded housing, lack of vehicle access and poverty, to determine how urgently a community needs health support, with the goal of reducing inequities,” the newspaper reported.

Chuck Ludlam, a former Senate aide and biotech industry lobbyist, offered a counterpoint.

“[Officials] need to have bombproof, fact-based, public-health-based reasons for why one group goes ahead of another,” Mr. Ludlam told the newspaper. “They have provided no explanation here that will withstand public scrutiny.”

The debate comes as the nation grapples with how best to deal with a rising infection rate and over 300,000 deaths attributed to the virus.

Global deaths caused by COVID-19 are nearing 1.7 million as of Johns Hopkins University’s latest update.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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