So far, just over 214 million people in the United States have received at least their first Covid-19 vaccination. This corresponds to about 64 percent of the country’s population, over 184 million of whom are fully immunized (as of September 29, 2021, source: Center for Disease Control). For comparison: in Austria, more than 5.7 million people have received at least one vaccination for Covid-19 – this also corresponds to about 64 percent of the total population (as of September 28, source: Ministry of Health).
The sociologist explains: “The distribution of vaccines in the early stages of the pandemic can only be described as chaotic in the United States.” Elizabeth Wrigley Field Towards ORF. Together with a team of researchers, she wanted to know which at-risk groups should be prioritized in order to make the best possible use of the vaccine doses available at the time. the calendar It was published in the journal Science Advances.
Many of the first vaccines available in the United States were distributed to designated health workers and those in long-term care facilities under government orders. “That made a lot of sense, of course,” said Wrigley Field, “but it was the only government mandate.”
According to the sociologist, the United States is decentralized in many areas – including vaccination plans: “everything else can be decided by individual countries, but most focus first on the elderly at risk.” Austria is persecuted: at the beginning of the campaign, the medical and nursing staff as well as the largest population were immunized.
Wrigley Field: “Under the same circumstances, older people are naturally more likely to get seriously ill with the virus. Unfortunately, the problem is that people in the United States do not live equal. In addition to age, a person’s cultural background and skin color are factors related to “.
Indigenous peoples, Latin Americans, and African Americans in general are at a higher risk of contracting and subsequently dying from Covid 19 infection. There are various reasons for this, some based on financial factors, according to the sociologist: “No matter if you live in apartments with several people or find poor protective measures at work – the risk of infection unfortunately increases for these people.”
But according to the researcher, there are also serious differences when it comes to treating the infection: “When you get sick, it’s also about the treatment options that are available. There are, among other things, numerous reports from New York that African Americans with breathing problems have been infected with the virus. Refuse them when making emergency calls because the emergency services didn’t believe them.
So Wrigley-Field worked with US researchers to investigate which vaccination plan would theoretically have the best effects on coronavirus mortality when vaccines were still unavailable. To do this, they analyzed health data from the US states of California and Minnesota.
The researchers initially focused only on these cases because there was useful data on their population. “It then turned out to be a fortunate coincidence that very different groups of people live in these two states,” Wrigley Field explains. Thus, the relationship between skin color and an increased risk of Covid-19 can be investigated better than initially expected by the research team.
They analyzed different scenarios. The distribution of vaccination based only on the age of the subjects showed that fair-skinned subjects, who showed a lower risk, preferred patients at risk of other skin colour. On the other hand, a vaccination schedule based on people’s skin color is not possible due to several factors, including the risk of discrimination.
The study found that distribution to the elderly and all adults in small geographic areas at risk of contracting coronavirus would have the best effects on the nationwide mortality rate. Hospice care could have continued, but some doses of the vaccine should have been distributed to people in neighborhoods where the risk of infection is highest. “This could have slowed down the distribution to the risk group of older people, but according to our calculations, this alternative had the best effects on mortality,” says the sociologist.
This option is particularly effective when the number of vaccine doses is limited but the population is in high demand. For example, a vaccination plan can be used for any upcoming booster vaccines, according to Wrigley-Field. However, she agrees: “Of course, it would be more costly to focus on individual neighborhoods than the US government’s previous vaccination plans.” However, she hopes that the research findings will be implemented in future vaccination plans. “The solution we’re achieving is not only the one that has the best effects on mortality, it’s also the best option in terms of medical equality in the population.”
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