There has been considerable opposition to vaccine mandates – opposition that I have argued is misguided. When both a vaccinated and an unvaccinated patient with COVID-19 need the last available bed in a hospital’s intensive care unit, the vaccinated patient should get it. Those who view vaccination as a “personal choice” need to bear personal responsibility for choosing to place others’ lives at risk. Exceptions should be made for those few patients for whom vaccination is contra-indicated on medical grounds, but not for those who claim to have religious grounds for exemption. No major religion rejects vaccination, and if some people choose to interpret their religious beliefs as requiring them to avoid vaccination, then they, and not others, should bear the consequences. By Peter Singer
You are here
Results for Op-Ed Global Health
Thursday 6 January 2022
Tuesday 30 November 2021
The damage caused by COVID-19 – exacerbated by the continued appearance of new variants, most recently Omicron – has been catastrophic. More than five million lives worldwide have already been lost to COVID-19, and with confirmed cases on track to swell from 260 million today to 460 million by next autumn, the World Health Organization estimates that five million more people may die from the disease in the coming months. While 95% of adults in low-income countries remain unprotected, by the end of 2021, 100 million vaccine doses in the G20 stockpile will pass their expiration date and be wasted. This is perhaps the greatest public policy failure of our times. So, when the World Health Assembly (WHA) gathers for a special session starting on November 29, its task is nothing less than preventing the recurrence of such a tragedy. By Gordon Brown.
Thursday 5 August 2021
Laws requiring people to be vaccinated if they are going to be in places where they could infect other people are restricting one kind of freedom in order to protect the freedom of others to go about their business safely. Car crash survivors who were injured because they were not wearing seat belts recognize and regret their irrationality – but only when it is too late. We are now seeing a very similar situation with vaccination ...too many people make decisions that they later regret. They cry. And they say they didn't know. By Peter Singer.
Wednesday 30 June 2021
Outside the rich-country bubble, the virus can spread, mutate, sicken, and kill. One obvious solution is to get the hoarded stockpile of vaccines into arms all around the world - but there have been only "paltry half-measures and insufficient gestures". For now, where this is heading is obvious. The US and Europe are offering crumbs, protecting their billionaires, their pharmaceutical lobbies, and their politicians’ campaign contributions. Meanwhile, China and Russia have other ideas – and the capacity to realize them. So, before too long, when the back of this pandemic is finally broken, the world will have fresh evidence about who is reliable and who is not. - By James K. Galbraith.
Thursday 13 May 2021
With people everywhere struggling to preserve their livelihoods under the constant threat of the coronavirus, it has become clear that this pandemic is more than a health emergency. It has become a global whole-of-society crisis. In this context, one of our greatest fears is that after decades of improvement, future generations’ prospects have suddenly plummeted. Some regions are experiencing a reversal of gains achieved in the past 20 years. It will be many months – even years – before vaccines against current and future variants of the virus are accessible to everyone. By Palitha Abeykoon, Maha El Rabbat, David Nabarro
Monday 10 May 2021
New York, USA
The combination of export bans, hoarding, and supply shortages has meant that COVAX has so far managed to deliver only one in five of the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses that were supposed to arrive in countries by the end of this month. At this rate, advanced economies will be able to vaccinate their entire populations before many low-income countries even begin their vaccine rollout. By Rosalind McKenna
Monday 3 May 2021
The world’s current vaccination plan is very much “broke,” and nobody seems to be fixing it, despite the disastrous consequences for lives, livelihoods, and the global economy. This was supposed to be the year of recovery. But, from an epidemiological standpoint, it is shaping up to be worse than 2020, and current dynamics suggest that 2022 will be no better. It does not have to be this way. But getting onto a better path will require strong global leadership. The world has multiple effective vaccines available. But it is not moving nearly fast enough to administer them. - By Ricardo Hausmann.
Wednesday 24 February 2021
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 is one of mankind’s most critical non-wartime efforts ever. Many countries have developed ambitious, politically sensitive, and carefully sequenced vaccination plans, but executing them successfully will be a challenge. To succeed, policymakers should build three realistic assumptions into their vaccination planning for 2021 and beyond. First, delays are inevitable. By Swee Kheng Khor
Friday 12 February 2021
We know many people are asking when vaccines will be available in Pacific countries. We anticipate that in 2021, demand will vastly exceed supply. But this doesn’t mean we should just sit and wait. PICs now need to focus on preparing, so they are ready when the first vaccines do arrive. This includes starting pre-registration for priority groups. It means making sure the systems are in place and working, for delivering vaccines and monitoring their safety and effectiveness. This requires investments to strengthen health systems, which will bring benefits beyond COVID-19. By Dr Takeshi Kasai.
Tuesday 26 January 2021
New York, USA
Just as political leaders like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro have forced a reckoning about the historical persistence of fascist politics, so have their disastrous responses to the COVID-19 pandemic renewed the relevance of the concept of genocide. How else are we to come to grips with so many culpably avoidable deaths? As in Brazil, Indigenous communities in the US have suffered disproportionately from the pandemic. By Federico Finchelstein and Jason Stanley.
Friday 23 October 2020
With the exception of decent New Zealand and arguably Australia, the rich, European ethnicity countries of the US Alliance have been involved in intentional Gerocide (mass killing of the elderly) in which their deliberate Covid-19 pandemic policies have resulted in “Covid-19 deaths per million of population” 10-180 times greater than in New Zealand (5). Expression of a deliberate intention to cause avoidable death of large numbers of people, and specifically of elderly people, would be unacceptable in politically correct Western democracies. But, unspoken and publicly unacknowledged, Gerocide is what has been happening in North America and Western Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic. By Dr Gideon Polya.
Saturday 17 October 2020
The announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates should remind us of the many contributions basic science has made to contemporary life. With COVID-19 ravaging much of humanity, and the world anxiously awaiting a breakthrough that can end the pandemic, we can no longer take science for granted. And the global science community, for its part, has risen to the occasion in unprecedented ways, not only to develop vaccines, therapies, and diagnostics, but also to improve our understanding of the virus and the best strategies to protect ourselves. By Lars Heikensten, Marcia McNutt, and Johan Rockström.
Friday 9 October 2020
Health-care delivery in nearly every country has been disrupted by policymakers’ mistaken initial assumption that health systems would quickly win the fight against COVID-19. As the pandemic’s caseload and death toll are increasing daily, it is often stalling or reversing hard-won progress on minimizing the impact of other diseases, from diabetes to malaria. By Anatole Manzi.
Thursday 8 October 2020
New York, USA
Without a vaccine, COVID-19 won't "go away" through a strategy of herd immunity. Two scientific case studies have already confirmed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can reinfect an individual and that our immunity to coronaviruses is alarmingly short-lived. I have previously called herd immunity a “reckless and ineffective strategy.” Now that COVID-19 reinfections are not just a possibility, but a reality, I would add “lethal” to my description. By William A. Haseltine
Monday 28 September 2020
Yes, our isolation has been a distinct advantage, but keeping Tonga COVID-19 free, comes with much hard work at the borders to keep it that way. World Environmental Health Day reminds us of the importance of public health intervention in preventing people becoming ill with COVID-19. We are preparing for the novel coronavirus to reach our shores. No country is immune. By Sela Akolo Fa'u, Viliami Tongamana and Denise Tully.
Friday 28 August 2020
Growing evidence shows that COVID-19 survivors can suffer from long-term health effects, not least heart-related complications. All countries with high rates of obesity should be considering programs encouraging weight loss, healthier eating, and physical activity. The more we can reduce the heart-related and other complications of COVID-19, the more lives we will save. By Ifeanyi M. Nsofor.
Wednesday 19 August 2020
By combining phones, Internet connectivity, and national IDs, a digital, demand-based social-protection system can be created to enable those in distress to seek support during crises. And it demonstrates how cash transfer programs can be deployed to counter the adverse socioeconomic consequences of external shocks, such as COVID-19. For Pakistan, this was a watershed moment in terms of government functioning. The crisis compelled the government to be more responsive, data-driven, experimental, and ambitious. At the same time in order for democracies to ensure progress, a culture of integrity and openness must be ingrained in government institutions and processes. By Sania Nishtar
Monday 10 August 2020
Many ethicists conclude that fully informed volunteers should be allowed to sign up for a potentially dangerous trial that will reduce the time required to bring an effective vaccine to everyone who could be exposed to SARS-CoV-2. The alternative is that the virus will continue to impose much higher levels of risk on other people, especially health care workers, older people, and people with underlying health conditions that reduce their chances of surviving infection. We should praise the young and healthy volunteers for risking their safety in order to save others. By Peter Singer and Isaac Martinez
Tuesday 28 July 2020
New York, USA
While ample resources – and high hopes – are being invested in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, policymakers and the public should be preparing for a scenario in which no silver bullet is possible. But even in that case, writes renowned infectious disease expert William A. Haseltine, there are strong grounds to believe that we can control the virus and its spread.
Wednesday 22 July 2020
During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, a few countries cornered the vaccine market, leaving the vast majority of the global population with no vaccine at all until the outbreak was effectively over. This scenario must be avoided at all costs during the current crisis – and, thanks to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, it can be. By Seth Berkley, Richard Hatchett, and Soumya Swaminathan.