New York and several other states have issued guidance for allocation of scarce monoclonal antibody and oral antiviral treatments that designate being of a nonwhite race a "risk factor" that can lead to preferential access to these treatments. This is a really, really bad idea. John Judis and I explain why in a Wall Street Journal commentary that is now online and should be in tomorrow's paper.
New York state recently published guidelines for dispensing potentially life-saving monoclonal antibodies and oral antivirals like Paxlovid to people suffering from mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19. These treatments are in short supply, and they must be allocated to those most in need.
According to these guidelines, sick people who have tested positive for Covid should be eligible to receive these drugs if they have “a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness.” These include standard criteria like age and comorbidities like cancer, diabetes and heart disease—but, startlingly, they also include simply being of “non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity,” which “should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.”
Consider the following cases: A middle-aged investment banker born in Colombia shows up at a physician’s office in Manhattan; a laid-off middle-aged worker of Italian ancestry shows up at a doctor’s office in Rochester, N.Y. Neither has medical risk factors, but both have mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19. The wealthy Colombian-American could be given Paxlovid; the laid-off auto worker would be turned away. You can construct thousands of these comparative cases using well-off Hispanics, Asians or blacks and working-class whites.
This is unfair and possibly illegal. With these kinds of regulations, the Democrats who control New York reinforce the racial and ethnic divisions that grew during Donald Trump’s presidency."
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