A COVID-19 vaccine arrived, a product of human ingenuity motivated by crisis. In months, not years. Then, a second. Soon, a third.

And, now, the politics.

It was inevitable that there’d be debates about who should get immunized first. In a rational society, the distribution should be such that it minimizes the forward-looking butcher’s bill: that people who specialize in this sort of stuff do the math and tell us how to save the most lives between now and the effective end of the pandemic (i.e. herd immunity via a blend of past exposures and vaccinations). At the core of this “math” are the factors that increase risk of death after infection, the biggie being age.

It’s hard to argue that those most likely to have contact with COVID patients, i.e. the medical personnel and first responders who treat them, should go first, if only to keep them at the front lines instead of the side lines. That’s a relatively small and accessible population that can be immunized promptly. After that, given how much more lethal the virus is to old people, it should be as obvious that the elderly should be next in line. The CDC reports that those in the 65-74 age bracket have a 90x higher chance of dying from a COVID infection than the 18-29 year old “baseline” (they’ll also take up 5x the hospital beds). The data tells the tale: COVID vaccinations should be administered to the oldest, first, with some adjustments/considerations for exposure risk (just as with first responders). So, the elderly in nursing homes should get extra priority, and again, few will argue.

After the nursing homes, though, things are already getting muddied. “Essential workers” are put first in line, but the ranks of “essential workers” far exceed what you and I might think, and go well beyond medical personnel contacting COVID patients. In fact, 87 million Americans, or one person in four, fit the current definition, which includes “critical industries” such as entertainment. That’s not a “relatively small” number to go first, and the time it will take to get all those immunized ahead of everyone else (including the non-nursing-home elderly) will be substantial.

This should go back in the hands of the actuaries who figure this sort of stuff out for a living (and for the living). The profile of COVID’s mortality should suggest that we tolerate the risk of the young and healthy being infected in order to save the lives of seniors.

This being 2020 however, that notion hits the wall of identity politics, with the latter winning the argument. The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended subordinating the 65-74 year old population to the 87 million “essential workers,” despite the fact that a major fraction of the latter have a far, far lower chance of dying from COVID.

Why? Because “racial and ethnic minority groups [are] under-represented” in the 65-74 bracket, and the “essential worker” category has a relative over-representation of racial and ethnic minority groups.

The recommenders admit that there’ll be greater loss of life under this allocation plan. Grandmas (and not just white ones) can be sacrificed for social justice reasons. The message is positively Orwellian: Some animals are more equal than others; some lives are valued more than others.

The examples of leftists sacrificing individuals to ideology are endless, total nine figures, and roll back over a century. The USSR and Red China killed over a hundred million of their own citizens in various ways, including ideologically-spawned famines, political ‘re-education’ (which continues to this day amongst the Chinese Uighurs), labor camps, and the like. The hammer-and-sickle should be an image more reviled than even the Nazi swastika, but all these historical atrocities, themselves spawned by an ideological movement that resembles remarkably today’s neo-Marxist “democratic socialism” class warfare rhetoric (with the classes based on identity rather than economics), are ignored by many who know better.

Even today, with all those lessons of history, we see it all over the place. Between the oppositions to golden rice and DDT alone (oppositions rooted in first-world “wokeness,” a million or more Africans and Asians die each year (no matter that they are overwhelmingly “of color,” their remoteness makes them expendable.

So, this “old people are white, they can die” business is no surprise.

We’ve been told, time and again, that smart leaders “follow the science,” but just as Lysenkoism subordinated science to ideology, today’s “follow the science” crowd won’t let science get in the way of its slavish devotion to identity politics.

And people will die.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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