Is NYC right to ‘consider race’ with monoclonal antibody COVID treatment?
- NYC Health released a guideline defining eligibility for monoclonal antibody treatment stating, “Consider race and ethnicity when assessing individual risk, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities may contribute to an increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.”
- Monoclonal antibodies are lab-made proteins that can mimic the immune system in fighting viruses. They are shown to “reduce hospitalization” in high-risk patients within 28 days after treatment.
- According to the CDC, the ratio of Black persons hospitalized in comparison to White persons is 2.6x, while death is 1.9x. The ratio for Hispanic persons is 2.5x and 2.1x.
- As of January 6, 2022, 72.1% of the population of New York has been fully vaccinated, while 84.8% have had at least one dose.
- Johns Hopkins research shows COVID spikes nationwide have been rising at a higher rate than before the vaccines were available despite more than half the country being fully vaccinated.
Because New York City is again seeing a high number of hospital admissions and deaths from COVID, it has decided to start aggressive treatment for the condition by administering monoclonal antibodies. Evidence is clear that these antibodies save lives. But the health dept. also stated that both 'race and ethnicity' will be considered in selecting who gets the treatment, causing many to decry it as 'reverse racism.' But when it comes to the pervasive degree of racism that threatens public health, NYC is right to consider race when distributing monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID.
First, most people do not seem to understand that even though race will be considered, no one with severe symptoms will be turned away, including Caucasians and the unvaccinated. The NYC Dept. of Health has stated race and ethnicity as criteria because the rates of COVID infection and morbidity are much higher in Blacks and Hispanics than the Caucasian population. Secondly, the vaccination rate against COVID is much lower among Hispanics and African Americans, placing them at a much higher risk for hospitalization and death.
Third, the CDC notes that underlying comorbidities (such as obesity, diabetes, or heart disease) are far greater in Hispanics and Blacks than Caucasians. The NYC Dept. of Health made the monoclonal antibody administration criteria based on solid data from the CDC which, showing how certain demographics (Blacks, Latinos, the elderly, and immunocompromised communities) are at a greater risk of developing severe symptoms and/or dying. Fourth there is a serious shortage of monoclonal antibodies, and only one is currently available-Sotrovimab. Hence physicians have to strictly limit and prioritize who gets them. But if one is severely sick, they will get the treatment regardless of their skin color.
New York City has deemed race as a 'medical condition' to be factored in when determining who is eligible to receive the city's limited supply of monoclonal antibody COVID treatment. Specifically, 'non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor.'
Rationing medical care based on race is sheer lunacy. It is also unconstitutional, not to mention unethical and illegal. Governments at any level should have race-neutral policies, whether it is regarding medical treatment, school assignments, or writing traffic tickets. To do otherwise is, again, patently illegal. Unless a medical condition specifically afflicts those of a particular race more than others, sickle cell anemia, for example, which affects about 98% of African Americans, race should never be considered when determining who is eligible for medical treatment.
Prioritizing one patient over another based on their race puts lives unnecessarily at risk. This is not what medical professionals or government policymakers or bureaucrats should do.
Under this poorly thought-out plan, NBA star Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets, with an annual salary of $29 million and an estimated net worth of $200 million, would be eligible for monoclonal antibody treatment ahead of a white New York City sanitation worker nearing retirement age.
Historical wrongs are not erased by creating identical wrongs in reverse. It merely perpetuates the idea of government as the paternal keeper of the racial scorecard. It is past time to move away from looking at all things through the race prism. It only divides; it cannot unite. Policies based on divisive politics like this disregard what the civil rights movement fought for, and put actual lives in harm's way.