It is imperative to realize that it is not just the United States that is a key player for vaccine distribution and public health mitigation
Global allocation inequities within the United States and other countries hold back vaccination efforts in the fight to have effective prevention for the spread of COVID-19. Diseases, especially infectious diseases, do not know global borders. Across the globe at least 20.9 percent of the population has received a COVID vaccine; however, this still leaves 79.1 percent of the population stagnant at not receiving a vaccination, therefore, causing a staggering increase of global incidence and new cases of COVID-19 (as of August 1, 2021).
It is imperative to realize, that it is not just the United States that is a key player for vaccine distribution and public health mitigation, but also every nation in the world is a key player in order to see sustained improvement in the curtailment of COVID-19.
In addition to inequities in vaccine deployment, development, and affordability, it is evident that there is significant scarcity in supply chain of vaccines due to the bulk volume purchasing of pre-orders by High-Income-Countries (HIC) and Upper-Middle-Income-Countries (UMIC). The scarcity in supply chain of vaccines is dampening the global fight in the COVID-19 pandemic. Till present, billions of individuals around the world do not have access to COVID-19 vaccines which causes the pandemic to persist and the potentiality of COVID-19 mutations to evolve and emerge—thereby undermining the efficacy of vaccinations.
To achieve strategic mitigation of COVID-19 spread, it is evident there needs to be equitable allocation of vaccines, not just within underserved, under-resourced communities within the United States, but also, throughout global nations and communities where vaccine accessibility is limited and scarce.
Therefore, as individuals living in the United States, we must realize ‘disease knows NO geographical border,’ we are not leading the fight to improve the situation of the pandemic until all people and communities , domestic and global, have equitable vaccination access and improved COVID-19 mitigation instilled within their country as diseases have the potential to spread rapidly across countries and continents.
Another hurdle in the United States is the exponential drop in inoculation of individuals in recent months. This drop in inoculation is not only due to healthcare mis-awareness, misinformation, lack of healthcare literacy, but also, the influence of politics on vaccine adherence. In a single unified country– America–we live in two separate, disconnected nations. The two Americas are driven by political ideology and scientific virology. In the United States, the influence of the electoral college is expanding beyond politics and now pandemic mitigation for COVID-19. The fight against COVID-19 in America is visibly fragmented.
In blue states, vaccination rates are steadily high and in red states, vaccination rates have dipped. In blue states, the delta variant is spreading at a slower rate, while in red states, it is rapidly infiltrating neighborhoods and communities. The influence of our divisive politics and electoral college is now negatively impacting the fight to effective pandemic interventions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
To overcome this ‘Great Vaccine Decline’ it is imperative to improve health literacy and health behavior in order to ensure improved interventions that alleviate the skepticism, misinformation, and lack of awareness regarding science and vaccines; such cogent education will improve transparency and vaccine immunology throughout our country. The contradictory (mis)information that has been widely disseminated on social media platforms and mainstream news networks has created a significant partisan-influence gap in vaccine adherence throughout our country, therefore triggering a plateau in vaccines, while COVID-19 cases are steeply rising.
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to ravage and spread across the United States, risks are increasing, particularly for the unvaccinated. Furthermore, as vaccination adherence dips and becomes lower, it is evident the SARS-CoV-2 virus will mutate to different strands such as Delta variant and Lambda variant which are more infectious and highly resistant to the current vaccines on the market.
Now more than ever, we have to become a unified nation with the same COVID-19 mitigation (enforced mask wearing, social distancing, etc.) enacted in each state, both red states and blue states, to ensure universal legislation is implemented in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and the Delta Variant. In addition to the increased need for unification, it is evident that health behavior and healthcare transparency are pivotal for sustained change in health outcomes for our population.
Health behavior changes, and changes in health information advocacy are public health work that take time, as it is slow and difficult to change people’s perceptions. However, with this pandemic, we see constant need for improved healthcare transparency and health behavior change in order to have more equitable and improved health outcomes for our nation.
Even in the future, post-pandemic, to see a sustained improvement in better healthcare– it is imperative as a country we have to overcome healthcare and scientific disinformation in order to increase healthcare literacy and transparency for vulnerable Americans. In turn, this will improve the overall health for many citizens while creating sustainable improvement in health behavior by ensuring optimized public health information disseminated on behalf of underserved communities.
Prevention is key; thus, it is imperative we invest in bolstering our public health workforce and framework to ensure efficient and sustained mitigation against COVID-19 pandemic and to improve health outcomes for other disease epidemics (i.e., hypertension and diabetes) that continue to be a healthcare burden for millions of Americans—disproportionately affecting marginalized communities.
The World Health Organization ensures that healthcare and the “right to the highest attainable standard of health” is a basic human right. The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the many diseases where we see increased inequities and disparities within our current healthcare system and framework. For sustained global change and improved global health outcomes, a long-term investment in public health is essential, as the future for public health is now.
The Delta Variant and COVID-19 pandemic persist causing significant adverse health outcomes for many vulnerable and marginalized neighborhoods throughout the nation. To reverse the ravaging situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and Delta Variant, it is imperative, that both domestically and globally, public health is promoted in order to ensure sustained, optimal, and equitable protection of health for all people and their respective communities.