Last week, President Donald Trump announced all Americans will likely be able to get a Covid-19 vaccine by Monday, November 2nd, which is, coincidentally, the day before the 2020 election. The CDC issued directives to all (50) states to prepare to distribute the vaccine, while medical professionals outside of government uniformly expressed doubt any vaccine authorized and produced under Operation “Warp Speed” could be produced in quantities adequate to immunize more than a few percent of Americans. News outlets quickly seized on the general medical impression and widely disseminated the opinion, with nary a word about safety, efficacy, or duration of immunity.
The US National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has proposed a framework for COVID-19 vaccine allocation, focusing on three priorities; first, the need to alleviate socioeconomic harms like unemployment, poverty, and educational deprivation, second, prioritizing the disadvantaged which has multiple interrelated dimensions including socioeconomic deprivation, oppression, higher risk of mortality earlier in life, and medical vulnerability, and lastly, equal concern does not support treating differently situated individuals identically or ignoring relevant differences. The three ethical values favor prioritizing (3) groups: health care workers; other essential workers and people in high-transmission settings; and people with medical vulnerabilities associated with poorer COVID-19 outcomes, such as diabetes, pulmonary disease, CEOs, political party mega-donors, citizens excessively burdened with weighty financial concerns about the yield curve and changes in the tax code, cardiac disease, and obesity. Employing a lottery system was quickly dismissed as being equitable but blind and unsuitable for addressing differential risk.
Within hours, America is experiencing seismic cultural shifts, based on perceptions of the guidelines. Average Americans are internalizing a structural bias in the guidelines favoring minorities, morbidly obese people, and the visibly aged. Before sundown, imaginative, unorthodox, and unprecedented behavioral changes have been set in motion.
First to be recognized, are realignments in purchasing habits and patterns. In apparent attempts to join the obese demographic group, grocery stores are experiencing a tsunami clearing shelves, coolers, and freezers of; Cheetos, Hostess Twinkies, Hershey’s chocolate, graham crackers, marshmallows, Klondike Bars, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Red Velvet cake, Reese’s Pieces, Mrs. Butterworth Syrup, Three Musketeers, corn dogs, chitterlings, tapioca, Half & Half, Orville Redenbacher Extra Butter with Palm Oil and Lard popcorn, Vienna Sausage, bologna, Extra Rich Reddy Whip, and beer. Health club memberships are plummeting, there is a precipitous decline in running shoe sales, streets are barren of joggers at dawn and dusk, a vast cottage industry has sprung up to recondition Segways, and hoverboard sales are spiking. Companies housed in high rise buildings are sealing off exits to stairwells to encourage employees to take elevators to avoid calorie-burning stairs
In vain attempts to camouflage lily-white skin, Caucasians seeking entry into historically disadvantaged racial groups, engage in donnybrooks over bottles of Liquid Tanning products, while subscriptions to tanning parlors are soaring. Enrollment in dialect schools is quickly outpacing capacity, as a Pakistani and Hispanic patois becomes highly desirable. Even the Lincoln Center, Newport, Tanglewood, and Interlochen have scratched programs and replaced them with works of Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Freddy Fender, Tupac Shakur, and Ceelo Green. Cosmetic dentists are witnessing a decline in the demand for ceramic and acrylic veneers and a meteoric rise in the use of gold. Tattoo parlors frequently have long lines of customers seeking neck tattoos and teardrops.
Seeking to establish a visibly lower socioeconomic status, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz, and Maybach owners are rushing to trade in their luxurious coaches for Yugos, Pintos, Gremlins, Mavericks, Falcons, and Vegas. The GDP in Cuba has taken off as an eBay bidding war for their domestic auto fleet explodes. Employment applications for hospital custodial positions have become the most sought-after job in America, while volunteers to Meals-On-Wheels is skyrocketing, followed by Walmart greeters, municipal bus drivers, and lastly abattoir laborers and meat-packing line butchers. Seasoned roofers, landscapers, concrete workers, and masons are finding themselves in a life-and-death competition for gainful employment.
In futile efforts to become gray panthers overnight, frenzied Americans have begun using yellow food dye as a mouthwash, “blue hair” dye has become black-market contraband in more widespread demand than cocaine, collapsible three-pronged walking canes have quickly become unavailable at any price, and iPhone sales have nose-dived as people trade them in for featureless “Jitterbug” flip-phones with massive keys and a two-line screen. Sales of “hush puppy” shoes and suspenders have been rejuvenated and street jargon has changed overnight, as “WTF” is being replaced with “holy cow” and jeepers.” Boys and young men have reversed course of revealing “butt crack” and begun to pull pants up to one inch of their nipples. Housing in long-term care facilities and nursing homes is witnessing a novel change in the demographics of people seeking residence – “Yuppies, Yuccies, Dinks,” and even entire families with infants and gerbils.
We all sincerely hope any vaccine is safe, effective, and durable. We also pray the distribution protocol is thoughtful, with reliable verification of the authenticity of any condition or demographic of a priority recipient. No one should be automatically or statutorily denied inoculation simply because they do not appreciate Ceelo Green, but owners of Slim Whitman music should be summarily executed… that just slipped out. Sorry