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Opinion | Was the Decision on Boosters Bungled?


To the Editor:

Re “This Is No Way to End a Pandemic” (editorial, Sept. 26):

The editorial board opines that before giving Covid booster shots to all vaccinated Americans, the Biden administration should send the vaccines to lower-income countries throughout the world. It seems to ignore the herculean effort that would require.

Keeping the vaccines potent and safe, organizing clinics and finding trained staff come to mind. Advocates for a “global vaccine equity” should remember that the devil is in the details.

Richard R. Babb
Portola Valley, Calif.

To the Editor:

I am grateful for your editorial. While I ache for President Biden to get this right, he and his team seem intent on adding to the confusion of the booster shot. I want to believe that this president is not politicizing the issue of vaccines, but my belief wavers daily.

The United States, the World Health Organization and all developed countries must work together to emphasize 1) the global nature of this pandemic; 2) the need for cooperation among nations and pharmaceutical companies; and 3) the value of each of us waiting our turn.

Sharon E. Streeter
Milwaukie, Ore.

To the Editor:

Yes, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dithered regarding the Pfizer booster, but that does not alter the science. The Israeli experience and Pfizer’s own data suggest that a booster six months after the initial series boosts the antibody response more than tenfold.

The argument that Pfizer’s vaccine and others should be reserved for third-world countries might be valid if production of these vaccines were not being ramped up at a prodigious rate. Pfizer alone claims that it will produce one billion doses of vaccine for low- and lower-middle-income countries. Other low-cost vaccines are in final trials, and other countries, such as India and Russia, are producing vaccines.

If The Times wants to argue that the F.D.A. has over recent years been co-opted by politics, lobbying, money and nonscientific determinants, it will get no disagreement from me. But attacking the basis for approving booster doses in the midst of a still raging pandemic is the wrong way to approach this.

Robert Matz
Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

To the Editor:

“New Guidance on Booster Shots Gets Ahead of the Science,” by Megan L. Ranney and Jeremy Samuel Faust (Opinion guest essay, nytimes.com, Sept. 24), criticizes the C.D.C. and the Biden administration for acting too hastily in approving booster shots for a portion of the Pfizer vaccine recipients. However, most of the current discussion regarding boosters misses another crucial point.

Both the F.D.A. panel and the C.D.C. vaccine advisory committee bemoaned the lack of data on which to base their decisions. The C.D.C. stopped reporting the mild and asymptomatic breakthrough infections data on May 1. The breakthrough deaths and hospitalizations data collection process is haphazard and patchy, with many states, including Florida and New York, not reporting any data.

The C.D.C. still has not taken the lead on this crucial issue, and that has greatly hampered the decision-making process on boosters. It is high time for this situation to change.

Opinion Conversation
Questions surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine and its rollout.

Ilya Kapovich
New York
The writer is a professor of mathematics at Hunter College, CUNY.

To the Editor:

Re “3 Lawmakers on Capitol Hill Share Accounts of Terminating Their Pregnancies” (news article, Oct. 1):

Kudos to the three congresswomen who shared their personal stories about having an abortion. But what about the stories of the other 140-plus women in Congress, all of whom surely have friends or relatives or daughters who have had abortions or who themselves have had abortions?

And what about the almost 400 men in Congress, most or all of whom surely have sisters or friends or relatives or daughters who have had abortions. And what about these men’s stories about the times they have had unprotected sex with women, and how they helped or didn’t help or didn’t care about the outcomes of those encounters?

Let’s not leave it just to the three courageous women. Even if we don’t actually hear the stories of the hundreds of other members of Congress, let’s be sure to remember that all those stories are also out there.

Peter Larson
Milwaukee

To the Editor:

Representative Kat Cammack’s account of her own mother’s decision to carry a pregnancy to term is striking. How wonderful that Ms. Cammack’s mother had the freedom to make a choice, a choice that was right for her. Why Ms. Cammack and others in her Republican Party would actively work to strip other women of the same choice is bewildering.

To the Editor:

Re “Murders Spike at Record Rate Across the U.S.” (front page, Sept. 28):

Make no mistake about it: The increase in homicides — the most serious but least prevalent violent crime — is concerning, and we must pursue policies that are effective in preventing violence.

But we must be clear with the public: Major crimes overall declined last year and remain historically low, lower than in the 1980s and ’90s. This happened even as many cities and counties reduced arrests for low-level crimes, booked fewer people and reduced jail populations in an effort to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The loss of life to homicide is tragic, and it affects some communities more than others. Communities where the increase has been most prevalent have also experienced disproportionate harm from overincarceration, Covid and police violence.

Let’s not allow fear to draw our attention away from meaningful reforms that can safely reduce jail populations and truly address systemic issues that lead to violence.

Laurie Garduque
Chicago
The writer is director of criminal justice at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

I’ve had a speech impediment since I learned to talk. My speech has improved so that most humans can understand me, and I have trouble only with words with the letter “r.” Yet I never found a voice technology software that understands any of my words, with or without “r.”

Because I don’t have a severe physical impediment, it’s faster for me to check the weather, type or call whomever I need to call myself than wait for any voice technology to understand me even after three tries.

I understand that these technology companies may not care about individuals with speech impediments as individuals, but it makes sense to consider this when creating software because it affects their bottom line.

I’ll never buy Google Home or Alexa because I know they won’t understand me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Rebecca Munday
Savannah, Ga.

To the Editor:

Re “11 Birds, 8 Mussels, 2 Fish, a Bat and a Plant Are Extinct, Officials Say” (news article, Sept. 29):

The announcement by federal wildlife officials that 22 animals and one plant should be declared extinct is not only heartbreaking but also a repellent reminder of just how entitled and self-serving we humans can be.

All of us should pause for a moment and let it sink in that these interesting, beautiful and important members of the global ecosystem are gone forever, and right now there’s not a thing any of us can do about it.

Regret is an awful emotion, but right now we humans deserve to feel it. When environmentalists and wildlife experts warn us about endangered species or our fast-changing climate, we ought to take them more seriously and act accordingly.

Cody Lyon
Brooklyn

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