Joe Biden Coronavirus Adviser: Vaccine Should Be Distributed Globally, Not to America First

Ezekiel Emanuel (Neilson Barnard / Getty)
Neilson Barnard / Getty

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who was named to Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory team on Monday, published a paper in September arguing that any coronavirus vaccine should be distributed globally according to something called the “Fair Priority Model.”

Emanuel, the lead author on a paper in Science called “An ethical framework for global vaccine allocation,” argued that there should be a “fair international distribution of vaccine,” rather than what he and his co-authors call “vaccine nationalism.”

“Reasonable national partiality does not permit retaining more vaccine than the amount needed to keep the rate of transmission (Rt) below 1, when that vaccine could instead mitigate substantial COVID-19–related harms in other countries that have been unable to keep Rt below 1 through ongoing public-health efforts,” Emanuel and his co-authors write.

He and his co-authors reject a proposal by the World Health Organization (WHO) to distribute vaccines proportionally, with “with 3% of each country’s population receiving vaccines” and allocation up to 20% of the population in every country.

They also reject a proposal to prevent the highest number of deaths by giving vaccines to countries based on “the number of frontline health care workers, the proportion of population over 65, and the number of people with comorbidities.”

The problem with that approach, Emanuel argues, is that death is not the only form of harm, and prioritizing older people would mean sending a disproportionate share of vaccines to rich countries, where average life expectancies are longer.

The Fair Priority Model, Emanuel and his co-authors argue, focuses on preventing premature death; on preventing the harms caused by school and business closures; and on reducing community transmission of the virus in the population in general.

They introduce a complicated formula, acknowledging that it “will require approximations as well as judgments,” such as estimates of the precise effect of each dose of vaccine on the “poverty gap” in each country. The authors claim that countries will not “exaggerate” the severity of the pandemic to receive more vaccines, because that would hurt economic activity.

Emanuel is regarded as one of the key architects of Obamacare, and wrote a controversial article 2014,”Why I Hope to Die at 75.”

Pfizer announced Monday that a vaccine it was developing with German drugmaker BioNTech was 90% effective.

The company claimed, incorrectly, that it had not participated in President Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” (it boasted of its involvement in July). It has a $2 billion contract with the U.S. government to deliver 100 million doses — with an option to deliver 500 million more. Americans will receive the vaccine for free, thanks to the administration’s policy.

Emanuel is also the brother of President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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