Some good news
Friday Pulse Check
Good morning and happy Friday. So often, we share stories of bad things happening in the world, and I am happy to say we have some good news today. First, good news about COVID-19 vaccines and then a story about an ambulance headed to Ukraine.
Here is today’s Friday Pulse Check beginning with the news:
This week, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel unanimously (21-0) approved COVID-19 shots for children as young as six months. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for children ages six months to five years and Pfizer’s vaccine is recommended for ages six months to four years. The CDC will need to formally recommend the shots and they could be available next week.
Houston-based Texas Children’s Hospital has already opened vaccine appointments for young children, with the earliest available being June 24. Other hospitals are opening up appointments for next week.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) said during a Thursday press conference that using state resources to encourage the jabs for toddlers and newborns is “not something that we think is appropriate.” He also called the clinical trial data “abysmal.” Florida’s health department also confirmed it had not pre-ordered the shots from the federal government, making it the only state failing to do so. Back in March, Florida also advised that healthy children five and older do not get vaccinated against COVID-19, making it the first state to oppose that CDC guidance. Mr. DeSantis did say they are not banning the COVID-19 vaccines and that “[p]eople can access it if they want to.”
Turning away from COVID-19 now, the American arm of the Walgreens Boots Alliance has announced it will partner with Pluto Health which aims to eliminate patient recruitment, diversity, and enrollment challenges. The partnership will use Walgreens’ patient data and technology to match patient populations (race, gender, socioeconomic status, location) to appropriate trials and will allow patients to enroll at home, virtually, or in person. Walgreens Boots Alliance’s stock price ended Thursday slightly up following the announcement.
COVID-19’s annoying hangover
This was the subtitle to our podcast this week and for those who haven’t listened to it yet, first I encourage you to do so, but secondly, I wanted to offer a written explanation.
As Ron and I discussed on Wednesday, the slump in the economy is being driven by a significant rise in demand and not enough supply. Whether it is baby formula, gas, or contrast dye for CT scans, there is a sharper demand for everything than there was two years ago.
What happened two years ago? COVID-19 sent us all home. When we were at home, the demand for gas dropped, as did the demand for airline tickets, cars, and even contrast dye.
In the past two years, we have had the approval of three efficacious vaccines that are good at protecting individuals from serious disease from COVID-19. As more and more people got vaccinated (and became confident in the vaccines), we started to venture out more and more, and slowly the demand for common items came back.
The problem was the supply wasn’t there yet and it still isn’t in some cases. Manufacturers have been working hard to ramp up production on many things because the United States is open for business. But in the global economy that we live in, just because the US is open, doesn’t mean other countries are. The contrast dye shortage was in part caused by a plant closure in Shanghai, China where they reinstituted strict lockdowns.
More recently, the Russian invasion in to Ukraine has caused problems as well. As we reported in the Friday Pulse Check a few weeks ago, a disruption in the supply chain there means that resources used to do root canals and MRI’s may be limited soon.
So before my right-wing friends lay all the blame at the feet of President Biden and before my left-wing friends start complaining about former President Trump (again), think about what happened in the world two years ago and then think about how connected the US economy is with the rest of the world.
Hartford HealthCare, a Hartford, Connecticut-based hospital chain is chipping in to the Ukraine aid efforts from the private sector. The hospital announced this week they are donating one of their ambulances to the city of Irpin, Ukraine. Irpin, which is adjacent to Kyiv, used to have a fleet of more than one hundred ambulances, but because of Russian shelling, it has dwindled to less than ten. Now before someone jumps up and down and says we shouldn’t be wasting this money, the hospital says the ambulance was set to be decommissioned and placed into reserves anyway.
At least by donating an ambulance to another country you have some idea of what might happen to it. I’m thinking back on that unlucky Texas plumber who sold his vehicle, only to find it in an ISIS propaganda video years later. This ambulance, unlike that truck, will go to good use.
Have a good weekend.