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God Bless BioNTech and Pfizer…and Now Let’s Build a First-In-Class National Health Care System.

Posted on | December 12, 2020 | 3 Comments

Mike Magee

As Americans cover-up against second and third waves of Covid-19, Americans once again place their hopes and prayers on a great scientific discovery to snatch us from the flames. The latest miracle cure, the just approved Pfizer vaccine, is highly efficacious and safe, and should provide emergency relief in the days and months ahead. But a single cure does not a health system make.

When Donald Trump expressed his cluelessness—”nobody knew that health care could be so complicated”—before a meeting of state governors in February 2017, he was exposing a pattern of both arrogance and ignorance that remains on full display.

CODE BLUE: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex was published four months later, and accurately predicted that – stressed by a health crisis like Covid-19 – our fundamentally flawed health system would buckle under the pressure. Nearly 300,000 Americans have died, many of them needlessly.

And yet, today we witness a group of Republican Attorneys General appealing to the Supreme Court to dismantle the ACA and the protections it offers to those with pre-existing conditions including Covid-19.

At the very same time, our President-elect has named a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint that starts on Jan. 20, 2021.

The Biden coronavirus task force is led by former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. David Kessler. But what if the Supreme Court dismantles the ACA?

We would be left with a convoluted system of third-party payers, and the pretzel positions our politicians weave in and out of as they try to justify it, reform it, then un-reform it. And Republican loyalists would likely continue to find solace in telling themselves, “Well, we still have the best health care in the world.”

In point of fact, we’re not even close to having the best health care in the world. As legendary Princeton health economist Uwe Reinhardt prophetically remarked two years prior to COVID-19, “At international health care conferences, arguing that a certain proposed policy would drive some country’s system closer to the U.S. model usually is the kiss of death.”

It is at times like these that system weaknesses expose themselves. The inability to swiftly and efficiently test a population for COVID-19, share those results, and rationally plan a swift, coordinated, and effective response is a reflection of the gross inadequacies of our health care system. So is a leaky and disjointed supply system that can’t manage demand for cue tips, let alone ventilators and manpower.

In a review of CODE BLUE last year, John Rother, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care wrote, “Code Blue will make you mad, but it will also make you better informed and better able to understand what we need to do as a country to fix it. I can’t think of a more persuasive book on the need for change.”

The need for change that John forecasted not only included matters of justice, planning, and equitable distribution of health care resources, but also the capacity to respond to a global public health event of the magnitude of COVID-19.

How broken must a system be when our nation can’t keep up with nations like South Korea and Italy in testing for the virus? What does our “patchwork response”, variable across states and communities, lacking any private-public planning and coordination, and absent clarity on pricing, access, eligibility and prioritization, and raft with confusion even on what protections are necessary for health care workers collecting samples, tell us about our need for a fundamental restructuring of our health care system?

God Bless Anthony Fauci, but is our system so fragile that the fate of Americans rests on a single individual having the temerity to speak truth to power in the face of executive incompetence? And how are we to reconcile a Presidential veto on testing kits months ago.

A half-century of systematic underfunding of public health, planning and prevention in deference to entrepreneurial scientists in pursuit of profit and patents over patients and families, ends here – in crisis.

God Bless BioNTech’s scientists, Ugur Sahin and his wife Ozlem Tureci, for their discovery, and their partner, Pfizer, for expertise in marketing and worldwide distribution which will be absolutely critical. With their help, we will survive this “Code Blue” calamity.

But we need to assure through new leadership and deliberate action by the Biden/Harris administration that this will never happen again. Scientific bullets are great, but they are no substitute for a first-in-class national health care system which is long overdue.

Comments

3 Responses to “God Bless BioNTech and Pfizer…and Now Let’s Build a First-In-Class National Health Care System.”

  1. Art Walker
    December 12th, 2020 @ 11:21 am

    I have loaned my copy of Code Blue so many times that it is lost in the ether. Please register it with Kindle to increase its usefulness. Thanks for your many contributions to a better planet.

  2. Mike Magee
    December 12th, 2020 @ 5:38 pm
  3. Biotechnology Consultant
    December 15th, 2020 @ 11:12 am

    Hi Mike, That’s all water under the bridge. I have some serious doubts that the incoming administration will improve our way of life, but as a reasonable person and loyal American I should support the incoming POTUS, but not compromise my values. Only time will tell. I hope he lives long and prospers!

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