COVID Vaccine Distribution: Blacks May Get Priorty

Natl Urban League Report Could Impact COVID Vaccine Distribution; Those Who Suggest Priority For Blacks May Find Ammunition, But Also Legal Problems

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COVID Vaccine Distribution Up For Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 13, 2020) -  A new report being unveiled today [2-5PM] may add fuel to the fiery debate about which groups should have first access to an effective COVID-19 vaccine once it become available, and specifically provide support for those who insist that race should be a factor, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

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The National Urban League's STATE OF BLACK AMERICA report will document how "Black people and Latinos are four times more likely than white people to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and Black people are twice as likely as white people to die from the coronavirus."

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and other panels are currently debating which groups - following healthcare workers directly interacting with coronavirus patients - should next have access to the vaccine, with the panel divided over whether to prioritize recipients' personal risk or their potential to spread the disease.

For example, a risk-based approach would emphasize vulnerable groups such as the elderly, whereas the spread-potential advocates might focus on potential "super-spreaders" such as bus drivers and supermarket employees.

Some are also arguing that race should be a factor in determining priorities, and the League's report could provide powerful support and ammunition for that point of view.

However, says Banzhaf, who has won over 100 race and sex discrimination cases, any scheme to afford priority based solely upon race - and not on underlying factors such as employment or pre-existing medical conditions, both of  which may likewise be affected by race - could face legal obstacles.

A variant might be to focus on other factors which contribute to the racial disparity regarding the coronavirus, suggests Banzhaf.