Coming to a black market near you: Covid-19 vaccine

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  one week ago  •  28 comments

By:   Adiel Kaplan and Corky Siemaszko

Coming to a black market near you: Covid-19 vaccine
The slow rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine is planting the seeds for a black market that will enable the rich and connected to get shots first, experts say.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The Covid-19 vaccine could wind up on the black market, experts are warning.

The much-criticized rollout by the Trump administration has laid the groundwork for a scenario in which the rich and the politically connected use their money and power to cut in line and get vaccinated before everyone else, they said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already threatened to impose fines of up to $1 million and revoke the licenses of doctors, nurses and others who don't follow state and federal vaccine distribution guidelines, which currently place a priority on inoculating front-line health care workers and nursing home residents.

There have been reports in Miami of big hospital donors getting the first crack at the vaccine and in New York of tycoons flying their friends down to Florida to get inoculated with doses earmarked for a retirement home.

And in Colorado, some teachers are crying foul after nurses and educators in wealthier public school districts and private schools got inoculated first.

"It's a little frustrating that districts who already don't have the same wealth accumulated around them were lower on the totem pole," said a ninth grade teacher in Aurora Public Schools, one of the poorest in the Denver area, who asked not to be identified by name. "The districts that already were receiving a lot of support got this before districts that need more support."

Arthur Caplan of New York University's Grossman School of Medicine and one of the nation's top bio-ethicists said the lament will likely be heard a lot more as the divide grows between vaccine haves and vaccine have-nots.

"We're hearing about some politicians, some trustees of big hospitals and others getting shots ahead of health care workers and elderly people," Caplan said. "I'm also hearing that some [drug manufacturing and distribution] companies are saying that as soon as the government contracts are filled, they're going to make getting vaccines for themselves a priority."

The result will be higher prices for everybody else, Caplan said.

"Anything that's seen as life-saving, life-preserving and that's in short supply creates black markets," Caplan said, echoing remarks he made in an interviewlast month.

Scarcity helped turn toilet paper and masks into gold early in the pandemic, and it's likely to do the same for vaccines, making them especially attractive to thieves and foreign copycat artists, other experts said.

"The danger is there is an already existing market for unregulated drugs," said Michael Einhorn, president of medical supplier Dealmed. "And the issue is that products will be imported from foreign countries that may not have as strict regulations as the United States — where product can be diverted, sold on the side and imported to the United States."

Jonathan Cushing of Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog organization, issued a similar warning in November.

"The vaccine is likely to have a high 'street value', making government supplies an attractive target for theft and diversion unless adequate safeguards are built into supply chains," Cushing wrote.

Cushing said in an email that so far, he has not seen "any black market issues in the U.S.," but the potential is there.

"There have been reports of substandard or falsified vaccines already being made in India, and also falsified hand-sanitizers in the U.S.A. appearing throughout the course of the pandemic," he said. "We've also seen people using connections to access drugs purported to be therapeutics, such as hydroxychloroquine."

"I'd argue that much of the planning for distribution in the U.S. has been done too late in the day, and the lack of guidelines, and clear eligibility criteria for receipt of vaccines are probably the root cause of many of the issues being faced in the U.S. at the moment," he added. "And subsequently this lack of planning gives rise to opportunities for individuals to jump the queue, and to exploit their position to get vaccines ahead of others."

Dr. Sadiya Khan, an epidemiologist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, agreed and added that the lack of a coherent vaccine distribution plan is clear evidence the federal government did not learn from its failure to ramp up testing as a means of slowing the spread of the virus.

"The absence of any federal infrastructure across counties and states is leading to an unmitigated disaster in addition to inefficient distribution," Khan said. "Vaccine distribution is the Groundhog Day of what Covid-19 testing was in the beginning of the pandemic. These considerable delays are likely to lead to more hospitalizations and deaths that could be preventable."

President-elect Joe Biden, who has joined the chorus of critics lambasting President Donald Trump's Operation Warp Speed for failing to meet its goal of rolling out 20 million vaccines by the end of 2020, has pledged to "move heaven and earth" to accelerate the pace of distribution.

Biden has also pledged to invoke the Defense Production Act, which allows a president to compel private companies to prioritize the manufacture of certain items for national security.

In Colorado, teachers were thrown for a loop this week after the state Department of Public Health and Environment surprised educators by suddenly announcing Wednesday that it was prioritizing first responders and older people. That announcement came just a week after Gov. Jared Polis placed teachers on the state's priority vaccine list.

By then, school nurses and health staffers at well-off public school districts like the Cherry Creek School District in the Denver suburbs had already been vaccinated as had several teachers at private schools like the Stanley British Primary School in Denver, NBC News learned.

When asked about two private school teachers who posted photos online of themselves holding vaccination cards after getting their shots last week at a local pharmacy, Stanley British Primary School head Sumant Bhat said in an email that it did not organize any vaccinations for its staff.

"While teachers are now in the 1B category, we have communicated internally that they are currently below the line within that category and, therefore, 'NOT up' for the vaccine at this time," Bhat wrote. "We are in frequent contact with our independent school network and our public health partners to determine when we will be able to roll out a thoughtful plan to make vaccinations available to our faculty and staff."

With the federal government leaving it up to local authorities to distribute the vaccine, Caplan said the likelihood of a nonpriority person being offered a shot is heightened.

Caplan's advice for resolving this ethical dilemma?

"We think the employee should accept the vaccine," Caplan and fellow ethicist Kyle Ferguson wrote. "What goals would be furthered by refusal? Those who feel the dilemma's force assume that their refusal would free up a scarce resource, that the liberated dose would end up in the arm of someone who needs it more urgently. But that is dubitable. It is likely that the vaccine will not leave the institution."


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igknorantzrulz
1  igknorantzrulz    one week ago

The much-criticized rollout by the Trump administration has laid the groundwork for a scenario in which the rich and the politically connected use their money and power to cut in line and get vaccinated before everyone else, they said."

:

Wow, whou would have could have ever thought, people that were rich, and or politically connected , would be able to cut in line, and receive the vaccine before everyone else, while we were living in the Donald Trump Age

of world confusion from a , that is finally crashing down on him, as he squirms from the doorway to look in his mirrors reflection that by his projection and opine, is more davish and handsome than he thinks he is, cause Trumps' in vane argument with his own reflection got interesting when he thought he was more handsome down, the more attractive  image he imagined he was while imagining  some, others images to die for, cause cast is a broken shell of a man  

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  igknorantzrulz @1    one week ago

The rich and influential don't need a black market. They are getting it first anyway!

 
 
 
Drakkonis
2  Drakkonis    one week ago

As I understand it, Biden is going to release it all at once. Still, there isn't enough for everyone. I'm not complaining about him doing so, but I'm not sure how that will solve the issues in the article. There still won't be enough for everyone and so the problem of a black market would still exist, I think. There are things that could be done to minimize it but I think it would likely slow distribution even further as accountability might take precedence over distribution. I think black markets exist because there's no effective way governments can prevent them. 

Since I don't know the details of Trump's rollout of the vaccine and so have no opinion on whether he's doing a bad or good job. But even if he were doing as good a job as could be done on this issue I think the potential for a black market vaccine would be about the same. That's because the black marketeers aren't interested in policy, programs or anything else beyond how they can exploit them for profit. It would happen under anyone's watch. 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
2.1  Thrawn 31  replied to  Drakkonis @2    one week ago

I think you are right. The simple fact of the matter is these companies do not have the manufacturing capacity to get hundreds of millions of doses out in a matter of a couple months. The other part of it is the storage and shipping capacity of these companies and the various entities administering the vaccines. The idea that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of last year was a pipe dream, don't know who started throwing that around but it was never going to happen. 

 
 
 
Drakkonis
2.1.1  Drakkonis  replied to  Thrawn 31 @2.1    one week ago

Yeah, always more complicated than it seems. Maybe if State and Federal governments did real, actual drills on something like this, more than just stuff notionally, I mean, we might be better prepared for distribution. Of course, we could probably come up with a pretty lengthy list of drills, so, who knows. Maybe put it under FEMA or something. They shouldn't have that much to do if there's not constant disaster. 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
2.1.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  Drakkonis @2.1.1    one week ago

One thing that my previous job had taught me and that was made very clear during the pandemic is that things can sound great and be fun to say and talk about, but when you get into the logistics of making it happen it gets extremely messy very quickly. And when supply chains are stretched to their max and then some, plans start breaking down very quickly.

I don't know how many times last year I had to tell VPs, AVPs, Directors etc. at the university I worked for that "we have to scale back our goals and our timeframe because we simply cannot get the needed supplies/equipment. Our suppliers have months worth of backorders and it is the same situation everywhere." A lot of people weren't happy to hear that, but it was the reality, demand had far exceeded the ability to supply. 

That is the situation these pharma companies are in now, they can only make and transport so many vaccine vials, and there are billions of people around the world looking to get them all at the same time. 

Maybe if State and Federal governments did real, actual drills on something like this, more than just stuff notionally, I mean, we might be better prepared for distribution. Of course, we could probably come up with a pretty lengthy list of drills, so, who knows. Maybe put it under FEMA or something. They shouldn't have that much to do if there's not constant disaster. 

Agreed. While there are some things we can't do much about, it does seem like the rollout plan is about as well thought out as an essay written 30 minutes before class. Our government (at the federal and state level) need to put together a set of SOPs for something like this if they haven't yet, and if they have then they either need to follow them or seriously revise them. Frankly the pharma companies should have known or had a pretty damn good idea where the vaccines were going, how many, and in what order before they had even completed the trials and gotten approval. Businesses and vaccination sites should have had that same info. It seems like the ball was dropped or never even picked up to begin with starting at the federal level. 

 
 
 
Drakkonis
2.1.3  Drakkonis  replied to  Thrawn 31 @2.1.2    one week ago

I know what you mean. 20 years in the Army gives one a pretty good appreciation for good logistics. I don't think most people appreciate just how amazing it is to move troops around the world and fight as well as we do. The reason is not just good logistics but, training, training, training. And every last soldier does it the same way ever other soldier does it, so you can just step in and know what to do already.

That's the sort of thing they need for situations like this. Learn the lessons this pandemic has taught us, figure out a plan and train for it. Find more problems, come up with solutions and train. Repeat and rinse. Every state operating to the same plan. It would be really hard to do, but that's the sort of real thing, rather than pointing fingers, that will save lives. 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
2.1.4  Thrawn 31  replied to  Drakkonis @2.1.3    one week ago

Oh yeah. 5 years in the Marines myself, it definitely gives you an appreciation for universal standards. My hope is that we will learn from this and be much better prepared next time. 

It would be really hard to do

But that is what a lot of people are being paid to do. They need to get to it and they need leadership at the top that is serious about it. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
3  Greg Jones    one week ago

The Trump Administration successfully got the vaccine program up and running within 12 months.

It is up to the states and cities to efficiently get the vaccines into people's arms.

Since most public school union teachers are sheltering at home now, they shouldn't be considered to be essential.

In a few days Biden takes the reins. It remains to be seen if he is up to the job.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
3.1  Thrawn 31  replied to  Greg Jones @3    one week ago
The Trump Administration successfully got the vaccine program up and running within 12 months.

No, various corporations and science labs around the world got a vaccine within 12 months. The Trump administration did the most basic thing they could and provide some funding, something any administration would have done, while at the same time downplaying the severity of the virus and actively working against efforts to contain it. Almost 400,000 dead on Trump's watch. Forgive me for not singing his administration's praises.

It is up to the states and cities to efficiently get the vaccines into people's arms.

It start at the top, with the federal government helping to determine where they are needed most and by who. As we have learned from this pandemic, having 50 states fighting each other for scarce resources is a REALLY shitty plan.

Since most public school union teachers are sheltering at home now, they shouldn't be considered to be essential.

They absolfuckinglutely should be. We need schools to open back up ASAP, that means we need to get the teachers and staff vaccinated so that can happen.

In a few days Biden takes the reins. It remains to be seen if he is up to the job.

He can't possibly do any worse. 

 
 
 
Ozzwald
3.1.1  Ozzwald  replied to  Thrawn 31 @3.1    one week ago
He can't possibly do any worse.

He has already released his plans for distribution of the vaccine, which shows that he has already done more that Trump has done for the last 7+ months.

Biden's incoming healthcare experts have already been coordinating with the CDC, and other departments, on changes that will occur on 1/20 at 12:01 pm.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
3.1.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  Ozzwald @3.1.1    one week ago

Hell, doing literally ANYTHING is better than what the Trump admin has done. Pretending the virus is a hoax doesn't actually make it disappear, contrary to what Trump says. My wife and I just recovered from it this last week. Not being able to go anywhere or do anything for 2 weeks sucks. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
3.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  Ozzwald @3.1.1    one week ago

Finally, some work will be getting done that will benefit WE THE PEOPLE and not tRump and his criminal enterprise of an 'administration'.

 
 
 
Drakkonis
3.1.4  Drakkonis  replied to  Thrawn 31 @3.1    one week ago
No, various corporations and science labs around the world got a vaccine within 12 months. The Trump administration did the most basic thing they could and provide some funding, something any administration would have done,

Which, to be fair, would be true of anything Biden could do. I'm pretty sure MSM wouldn't just say "meh".

while at the same time downplaying the severity of the virus and actively working against efforts to contain it. Almost 400,000 dead on Trump's watch.

Possibly. It's generally assumed that had what MSM has been telling us needed to be done according to experts, the death toll would be significantly less. That's a maybe because we don't know how things would have played out without actually doing it. States were all doing their own rules and Trump, and Biden, don't actually have the power to do a sort of national mandate, as I understand it. It may not have worked out as everyone thinks it would have. People who refused to wear masks wouldn't suddenly decide to wear them just because Biden is in office, for instance. Same goes for gatherings. Still may have happened. 

It start at the top, with the federal government helping to determine where they are needed most and by who. As we have learned from this pandemic, having 50 states fighting each other for scarce resources is a REALLY shitty plan.

I tend to agree, although I think Trump would have suffered in the media just as bad if he had done so. He'd get blamed for who got what not being fair or something. But his suffering isn't the issue. I do think the Federal Government should have moved to acquire all the medical supplies and set the price for them. Perhaps sharing the cost with the states in some manner. 

They absolfuckinglutely should be. We need schools to open back up ASAP, that means we need to get the teachers and staff vaccinated so that can happen.

Totally agree with this one and I don't even have kids at home driving me crazy. This has to be one of the biggest steps we can take to relieve a lot of pressure on society. This would do a lot. Teachers should be high on the list. 

He can't possibly do any worse. 

Those are called "Famous last words" : )  Worse can always be done. 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
3.1.5  Thrawn 31  replied to  Drakkonis @3.1.4    one week ago
Which, to be fair, would be true of anything Biden could do. I'm pretty sure MSM wouldn't just say "meh".

Indeed, which is why I don't credit the government too much for the vaccine. They just put up the money, but the hard work was done in the labs across the globe. 

Possibly. It's generally assumed that had what MSM has been telling us needed to be done according to experts, the death toll would be significantly less. That's a maybe because we don't know how things would have played out without actually doing it.

Here is my position. What have other countries like New Zealand or Taiwan done? Let's do that. We know what they did has worked because they have essentially no cases and their death tolls are basically nonexistent. I am no expert, but I know that doing nothing, directly contradicting health experts, and telling people to go on with life as usual does not stop a viral outbreak. 

States were all doing their own rules and Trump, and Biden, don't actually have the power to do a sort of national mandate, as I understand it.

True, but the president does have the bully pulpit and can absolutely pressure state governments to go along with some sort of a national plan. Of course i am sure there would be one asshole governor or state legislature that would still refuse even if Trump had actually tried to do anything about the pandemic, but I think we would have had a much more coherent strategy and the severity of the pandemic could have been reduced.

People who refused to wear masks wouldn't suddenly decide to wear them just because Biden is in office, for instance. Same goes for gatherings. Still may have happened. 

Yeah, I am pretty sure we are just fucked at this point. There is no controlling the virus any longer (that window closed back in March 2020), now we just need to focus on mass vaccinations. 

Totally agree with this one and I don't even have kids at home driving me crazy

Oh my god, I love my kids to death, but Jesus they need to go away for a few hours 5 days a week. And my oldest is in first grade and she just really needs to be there. She needs the social interaction, she needs to be in class with her teachers. Trying get a 6 year old to focus on a computer for 6 hours a day and really learn just isn't working for her. 

Those are called "Famous last words" : )  Worse can always be done. 

Great, now its gonna get worse lol.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
3.1.6  Ozzwald  replied to  Tessylo @3.1.3    one week ago

Finally, some work will be getting done that will benefit WE THE PEOPLE and not tRump and his criminal enterprise of an 'administration'.

Biden has done more to fight COVID in 1 month, than Trump has done in 1 year.  And Biden isn't even POTUS yet.

 
 
 
Drakkonis
3.1.7  Drakkonis  replied to  Thrawn 31 @3.1.5    one week ago
Here is my position. What have other countries like New Zealand or Taiwan done? Let's do that.

That might not be as easy as just doing what they did. They have some rather large advantages that we don't. Biggest is they are islands. Easier to close down the country to foreigners. Also, smaller populations and landmass, reducing logistical concerns. Possibly a legal system that allows more draconian methods than our laws allow. 

I am no expert, but I know that doing nothing, directly contradicting health experts, and telling people to go on with life as usual does not stop a viral outbreak.

I'm sure that's a factor. I personally tried to adhere to what the experts said, even though I was and am dubious. Better safe than sorry and it cost me nothing. But I can tell you this. I think a large part of the problem was how the media handled it. They came across as using the pandemic as a partisan means to bludgeon Trump with to a lot of people. The result was that a lot of people didn't trust the media because all they saw was bias on their part, not an actual problem.

Speaking for myself, it seemed as if the media knew they were causing Trump to react the way he did because they knew his personality well enough to push him into the response they wanted because it would help the Dems in the election. Now, I may be wildly off on this, but it's hard not to think this when you listen to pundits on CNN and MSNBC go out of their way to make every single thing, no matter how trivial, an excuse to mock or bash him. Trump did things I didn't agree with, or did things I did agree with but did them foolishly. But he hardly did everything wrong. And that is the sort of thing that causes distrust of the media. All of it. Even one's like Fox because they do the same damn thing. Tell people what they want to emotionally believe. I don't feel I can trust anything anyone says in the media anymore. It's all so freaking biased. That's my two cents on that. 

Of course i am sure there would be one asshole governor or state legislature that would still refuse even if Trump had actually tried to do anything about the pandemic, but I think we would have had a much more coherent strategy and the severity of the pandemic could have been reduced.

I'm sure we're about to find out if Biden can do any better because those Governors are all still there. I'm pretty sure there's going to be "asshole governor's" as you put it, who will not accept what Biden tries to do. Kind of sad, really, because you hear everyone on both sides (okay, maybe not on the far left and right) we need to work together and then not do it. Nobody is picking their battles anymore. They're resisting on everything they can find, on both sides. 

Yeah, I am pretty sure we are just fucked at this point. There is no controlling the virus any longer (that window closed back in March 2020), now we just need to focus on mass vaccinations. 

I think there's been so much politics involved that it isn't likely we're going to see what the real picture looks like for a year or two. After scientists, statisticians and whatnot start writing reports and books. It may be that trying to control such a virus in a population our size and makeup would be like trying to control a force of nature, like an earthquake. Or it may be the find we could have controlled it if we had been properly prepared before the fact, which obviously we weren't, on many levels. Or, it may be they find it would have been a lot less fatal than it is turning out to be if everyone had just done what the experts said. Until then, I think anything else will just be speculation until then. 

Oh my god, I love my kids to death, but Jesus they need to go away for a few hours 5 days a week. And my oldest is in first grade and she just really needs to be there. She needs the social interaction, she needs to be in class with her teachers. Trying get a 6 year old to focus on a computer for 6 hours a day and really learn just isn't working for her.

LOL Your view seems par for the course for all my friends who have kids. I'm almost surprised the kids themselves aren't out protesting to be let back in school. 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
3.1.8  Thrawn 31  replied to  Drakkonis @3.1.7    one week ago
I'm almost surprised the kids themselves aren't out protesting to be let back in school. 

She has asked so many times since March when she gets to go back to school. She has even cried a few times because she misses her teachers and misses her friends. She will be so happy to be back, whenever that will be.

 
 
 
Drakkonis
3.1.9  Drakkonis  replied to  Thrawn 31 @3.1.8    one week ago

Hope it's soon. 

 
 
 
Kathleen
4  Kathleen    one week ago

I hope it never comes to this. Unfortunately we all know that money talks. 

 
 
 
lib50
4.1  lib50  replied to  Kathleen @4    one week ago

Sadly true.

 
 
 
Kathleen
4.1.1  Kathleen  replied to  lib50 @4.1    one week ago

Hi Lib, hope you are well. I am sure we will be hearing all kinds of things happening about this. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
5  Vic Eldred    one week ago

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already threatened to impose fines of up to $1 million and revoke the licenses of doctors, nurses and others who don't follow state and federal vaccine distribution guidelines, which currently place a priority on inoculating front-line health care workers and nursing home residents.

Never mind others getting it, Andrew, why aren't those who have the priority being vaccinated?

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
5.1  Thrawn 31  replied to  Vic Eldred @5    one week ago

That needs to get fixed quick. Frontline workers, first responders, and teachers/school staff need to be at the front of the line. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
5.1.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  Thrawn 31 @5.1    one week ago

There is a slight variance in priority from state to state. At this point, I don't care who they pick, let's vaccinate people. In some places they have had to throw vaccine away!

 
 
 
Sunshine
6  Sunshine    one week ago

Michigan ranks the 7th worst state for getting the vaccines done.

 
 
 
Kavika
7  Kavika     one week ago

Florida is a diaster, it's so bad here that there have been national news stories on it. Some counties are doing there best but Florida is rated close to the bottom of the list. Our governor hasn't been much help.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
8  Vic Eldred    one week ago

“In 1946, in a period of less than a month, 6,350,000 people were vaccinated in New York City.

Back then they didn't have ideologues who worried about who got it first.


 
 
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