- The Daily Beast
Octavio Jones/GettyAs we near the one-year anniversary of stay-at-home orders in the United States, COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun, albeit in rather messy fashion. In the U.S. to date, over 49 million people have received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, and over 24 million have received their second dose as well, according to the CDC. Despite promises of smooth and widespread vaccine distribution from the Trump administration in the fall of last year, the vast majority of vaccinations have only been administered under the direction of President Biden’s COVID-19 Task Force. And stories of people skipping the line, political favoritism, and wealthy individuals gaming the system continue to taint the process nationwide.Soon, though, with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on the way, anyone who wants to get a vaccine will (in theory) be able to get one—if their job and other circumstances permit. This, in turn, has led technocrats to recommend the use of vaccine passport apps to enable safe re-opening of public spaces by this summer. This isn’t the first time app-based solutions have been recommended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact-tracing apps first hit the digital marketplace by the summer of last year, yet have struggled to find their feet in part due to issues regarding privacy and surveillance—issues that vaccine passport apps share as well.Anti-Vaxxers Melt Down Over Vaccinated People Giving BloodHowever, concerns regarding privacy rights are not a luxury that all can afford, including the socioeconomically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and refugees, and the formerly incarcerated—all of whom have historically been over-surveilled by the government. No matter the slew of assurances from tech giants, vaccine app adoption will continue to encounter hesitancy among marginalized communities where individuals have routinely been forced to renounce their right to privacy, often in order to qualify for government assistance or in the name of public safety. Ignoring this “poverty of privacy rights” means ignoring a sizable subset of the population who are less willing to give up what privacy they have left, less trusting of institutional authorities, and less likely to be afforded equitable healthcare to receive the vaccine in the first place.Equity in vaccine distribution is a major hurdle to achieving herd immunity—a hurdle even for those who are already eligible. Low-income communities, communities of color, and immigrants are thus far among the least likely to have received the vaccine, and yet have been more likely not only to get sick with COVID-19 but to die from it, too. Adequate access to health care remains a barrier, and the ability to schedule and show up for a vaccination appointment remains contingent on internet access, flexibility from employers, and reliable transportation.Additionally, vaccine hesitancy that exists in subsets of these communities is due both to a long history of systemic discrimination and abuse by medical institutions—such as the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee and forced sterilization of Black, Latina, and Indigeneous women across the country—and to ongoing disparities in quality of care for minority groups in health-care settings today. Misinformation campaigns by anti-vaxxers have also specifically targeted these communities, exacerbating the situation further.In response to such hesitancy, one might argue that uptake may improve if individuals are unable to participate in indoor activities, such as going to the grocery store or movie theater, without a vaccine passport app in hand. And such an argument wouldn’t be without precedent. For instance, SB-277 in California outlawed personal exemptions from vaccination requirements for entry into both private and public schools following the 2015 Disneyland measles outbreak. And under immigration laws, the Department of Homeland Security mandates that those entering the U.S. for the first time or current foreign nationals applying for residency must be vaccinated based on recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services. Required immunization “cards” for commercial travel have also existed for quite some time, and the evolution to developing an “e-vaccination certificate” system for travel post-pandemic is unsurprising. Though vaccinated individuals currently receive a CDC-issued paper COVID-19 vaccine record, plans are already underway in the private sector to attempt a nationwide app for immunization status.Black Doctors Try to Get Through to Vaccine ResistersHowever, while the public may support some form of vaccination verification to enable safer participation in indoor activities, a recent survey by Brookings pointed to concern that apps have a higher potential for violations of privacy and civil liberties than paper cards, particularly since U.S. law does little to protect against discrimination based on proof of immunity. Additionally, not only would these apps face challenges in terms of varying enforcement mechanisms, e.g. entering a school versus a grocery store, but aforementioned hesitancy—with respect to both vaccination and app adoption—remains a major obstacle to overcome. Countering vaccine misinformation and distrust of public health authorities, as well as ensuring privacy protections, will be an ongoing battle. Furthermore, even those who want to use a vaccine passport app may not be able to because of limited access to smartphones.Ultimately, relying solely on vaccine passport apps to reopen society will translate primarily into privileged communities being afforded a return to normalcy. Such apps can be of use in very limited circumstances, like commercial air travel, but these efforts are essentially trivial to the more pressing consideration of vaccinating the general public equitably. The focus must remain on addressing the underlying concerns of marginalized communities by improving government engagement with community leaders to promote vaccine accessibility and uptake and providing alternatives to signing up for vaccine appointments for those without smartphone or Internet access (like landline phone and mail-in scheduling).Concentrating on vaccine passport apps as a silver bullet for getting back to normal is a mistake so long as an equitable vaccine rollout remains out of reach, and marginalized communities continue to be left behind.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inoculated with the first dose of a home-grown coronavirus vaccine on Monday, kicking off an expansion of the country's immunisation campaign as infections rise in some big states. India, which has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases after the United States, has so far vaccinated 12 million health and front-line workers since starting its immunisation programme in mid-January. "I appeal to all those who are eligible to take the vaccine," 70-year-old Modi said on Twitter, posting a picture of him getting the shot at a government hospital in New Delhi.
'The Walking Dead' showrunner says the show's new villains were originally part of the plan for season 11
Angela Kang tells Insider the reapers were supposed to be introduced on season 11. The pandemic changed that.
Minneapolis approved funding to hire social media influencers to spread information about ex cop Derek Chauvin's trial
Minneapolis is hiring social media influencers to spread information about the trial of the cop, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd's neck.
Prince Harry, who shocked Britain last year when he and his wife Meghan stepped back from royal duties, told U.S. interviewer Oprah Winfrey that he had worried about history repeating itself, according to excerpts released on Sunday. The CBS broadcast network released two brief clips from Winfrey's interview of the couple, which is scheduled to air on March 7. "My biggest concern was history repeating itself," Harry said, apparently referring to his mother Princess Diana, who was hounded by the British press and died at age 36 in a car crash in Paris after her divorce from Prince Charles.
After the Daily Mail posted photos of a shirtless Jonah Hill, the actor clapped back at "public mockery of his body" and said it "doesn't phase" him.
- Business Insider
From a golden statue to Trump hinting at a third presidential run, here are some striking moments from CPAC
CPAC this year was marked by an allegiance to Trump and an expectation that he will remain influential going forward.
- The Independent
The president returned to some of his favourite debunked theories about the election, and much more
- The Independent
It was the ex-president’s first major public appearance since leaving the White House
Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday laid out a variety of election proposals, such as limiting absentee voting and days when Americans can vote, in his first public speech after his stinging Nov. 3 election loss. Democrats' nationwide push to register new voters, including Black voters and young people, and Trump's refusal to urge his Republican supporters to vote by absentee ballot are believed to have been factors in his 7 million vote loss to Joe Biden. At a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, Trump said Election Day should be only one day, not a number of days leading up to the actual voting day.
At the 2021 Golden Globe Awards, stars attended in their finest red-carpet attire, from Cinderella-like gowns to couture blazers and dresses.
- Business Insider
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel says despite GOP divisions over Trump impeachment, the party 'overwhelmingly' agrees on most issues
Ronna McDaniel told CBS that GOP voters would determine the fate of Trump's influence in the party, but party voters still supported his agenda.
- Associated Press
Prince Harry says the process of separating from royal life has been very difficult for him and his wife, Meghan. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry invoked the memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, who had to find her way alone after she and Prince Charles divorced. Diana was shown in a photo holding toddler Harry as he made the comments.
- Associated Press
Police in Myanmar’s biggest city on Monday fired tear gas at defiant crowds who returned to the streets to protest the military’s seizure of power a month ago, despite reports that security forces had killed at least 18 people around the country a day earlier. The protesters in Yangon were chased as they tried to gather at their usual meeting spot at the Hledan Center intersection. In the capital, Naypyitaw, the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi made a court appearance Monday via videoconference, the independent Myanmar Now online news agency reported.
The remains of up to 800 people date back more than 1,000 years and they make a diverse group.
- Business Insider
Trump is expected to use his Florida speech to talk about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
Ms Suu Kyi's appearance follows the deadliest day of protests yet, after 18 people died on Sunday.
The ambassador made an emotional appeal urging countries to help remove the military from power.
- Miami Herald
From Puerto Rico to Bradenton and Orlando to Tuscon, Arizona, players on the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour paid tribute to Tiger Woods, who suffered a horrific car accident in California earlier this week and needed surgery to his multiple leg injuries sustained in the accident.
With masks and social distancing being the new normal, photos of crowded rooms, buffet tables, and close hugs just hit different these days.