Things That Matter

Chile Is Testing Out Immunity Cards For People Who Have Been Cured Of The Virus

Chile is asking itself the same question that many of us are asking ourselves: when is “this” going to end, when will we be able to return to the life we knew before the pandemic, or at least how to begin to recover what used to be normal life.

For governments, the priority seems to be jump starting their economies amid a global pandemic. Some states in the U.S. are already reopening non-essential businesses (like gyms and beaches…really?!) while countries like Mexico are allowing most businesses to stay open so long as they practice social distancing measures.

Chile – which was in the throes of a nationwide lockdown – has decided to take a different approach. The government there plans to allow those in low risk groups and those who have already been infected with the virus and have recovered to return to near normal activities. But at what cost?

Chile plans to issue the world’s first Coronavirus immunity cards.

The country’s health officials confirmed plans to be the first country to issue coronavirus “immunity passports,” which would allow individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to go back to work. Health Ministry Undersecretary Paula Daza said that 4,600 people have recovered from the deadly virus. According to officials, those citizens can “help the community enormously” by getting back to work. Chile has tested more people for the coronavirus than any other country in Latin America.

In principle, people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been symptom-free for 14 days or more will be eligible for antibody testing. Chile has a population over more than 19 million people, so the roughly 4,600 people who would receive these ‘immunity cards’ make up a very small segment of the population.

If the strategy works, the ID cards could – little by little – help Chile reopen its economy and get its population back to work. But the strategy isn’t without risks.

From a flourishing black market to several unknowns related to the Coronavirus – the government’s plan has many risks.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

If there is an ID card that would enable to you to take to the streets, get back to work, and return to a somewhat normal life – you would want it right? And so will many others – including those who have not yet developed any anti-bodies to the virus and are still at-risk. That’s what has many officials worried about Chile’s ID plan. It could create a black market for fake immunity cards.

Not only does this pose a threat of at-risk populations getting fake immunity cards – but since they’ll likely be available at a cost most Chileans can’t afford, this leaves only the privileged able to get them.

Chile says they will certify immunity, but does it even exist?

Credit: Pixabay

The idea that a person who recovers from COVID-19 can be immune to the virus has its foundations in the way the human body reacts to thousands of other viruses that we live with in our daily lives.

Since there is no specific treatment for COVID-19 at this time, the goal is to keep the patient as stable as possible while his or her immune system copes with the virus. To this extent, it is understood that those who manage to recover have developed the necessary antibodies to do so. Some recovered patients are having their antibodies ‘harvested’ to inject into other patients still battling the disease.

However, the World Health Organization has explicitly discouraged the issuance of immunity cards because the presence of antibodies simply indicates that the body has reacted to the virus, not necessarily proof of immunity.

So far, Chile has had a well-planned response to the pandemic and has escaped much of the turmoil of other countries in South America.

Local governments have instituted rolling quarantine orders in different locations based upon number of new cases, access to medical care, and the percentage of elderly residents. They also instituted complete lockdowns, closed the borders to all travel, and instituted overnight curfews to limit people’s movements. The measures seem to be working.

Chile has seen roughly 12,000 confirmed cases of the virus but less than 200 deaths. The country has also initiated widespread testing, which is why the government is so confident in its plan to issue these immunity cards.

“We are doing well, so far, but it’s too soon to declare victory,” said Paula Bedregal, a public health expert and professor at the medical school of Universidad Catolica de Chile. “We aren’t in winter yet, when things can get more complicated, and the virus is starting to appear more among more vulnerable groups.”

Bedregal added that real information is lacking in some of the poorest areas, making it harder to know if the system in place will continue to succeed.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Entertainment

Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s 2021 and the Met Gala is back this year – after being canceled in 2020 thanks to a pandemic – with superstar poet Amanda Gorman being eyed to host the fashion event of the year. Given the 23-year-old’s show-stopping performance at the inauguration, the theme fittingly will be a celebration of America and American designers.

The Met Gala will return in 2021 with a very special guest as host.

Vogue’s “Oscars of Fashion” famously takes place on the first Monday of May. However, this year it’s been pushed back to September 13, in hopes that life will have returned to something closer to normal by then.

Epic poet Amanda Gorman is reportedly in talks to co-host the event alongside Tom Ford, who is the academy’s president. The breakout star of President Biden’s inauguration, Gorman is on the cover of the magazine’s May issue and the subject of a relentlessly glowing profile inside.

The black-tie gala, which raises funds for Met’s Costume Institute, is normally fashion’s biggest night and sees guests from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and even Maluma.

The event was canceled in 2020 thanks to a global pandemic.

The world’s most glamorous party was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, which was (and still is) raging the planet at the time. There was a virtual event in place of the 2020 event, with celebs like Julia Roberts, Priyanka Chopra and Amanda Seyfried showing off their looks from home and stars like Mindy Kaling and Adam Rippon taking part in the #MetGalaChallenge, recreating looks from past years.

This year’s event will draw inspiration from all things USA.

The theme of this year’s Met Gala has not been announced, but Page Six says the night will be devoted to honoring America and American designers, following the 18-month-long COVID crisis in this country.

Recent past themes for the event have included “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (2019), “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” (2018), and “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between (2017). And don’t forget 2016, when Zayn Malik wore robot-arms to Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Brazil Just Passed a Bill That Will Allow Rich Corporations to ‘Skip the Line’ for COVID-19 Vaccines

Things That Matter

Brazil Just Passed a Bill That Will Allow Rich Corporations to ‘Skip the Line’ for COVID-19 Vaccines

Photo via Getty Images

Currently, Brazil is one of the world’s epicenters of the coronavirus. In March 2021, Brazil saw 66,573 COVID-19-related deaths. That means 1 in every 3 COVID-related deaths worldwide are occuring in Brazil.

And it doesn’t appear that the numbers will be slowing down anytime soon. While the United States is making strides in their COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Brazil is lagging far behind. And things are about to get a lot more complicated.

On Tuesday, Brazil passed a bill that would allow corporations to buy up as many vaccines as they can get their hands on, and privately distribute them to their employees first.

Elected officials in Brazil are arguing that the country has become so desperate to vaccinate its citizens, that it doesn’t matter who gets the vaccines first at this point.

The country, once renowned for having one of the most robust and efficient public vaccine-distribution programs in the world, has failed to make strides towards getting their citizens vaccinated.

“We are at war,” said the leader of the chamber, Arthur Lira. “And in war, anything goes to save lives.” We don’t know about you, but usually when it comes to war, we’ve heard that soldiers prioritize the health and safety of young, the weak, and the elderly before their own? We digress…

Brazil’s plan to privatize the vaccine rollout has brought up moral and ethical questions.

From the beginning, the World Health Organization has asked countries to first prioritize essential health workers and then high-risk populations when distributing the vaccine.

Anything other than that would promote a pay-to-play schemes in which the rich could protect their lives before poor people could. And poor people are more likely to die from COVID-19 in the first place.

As Alison Buttenheim, behavioral scientist and expert on the equitable allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine said, vaccine distribution should not “exacerbate disparities and inequities in health care,” but instead address them. Brazil’s vaccine rollout plan would fail to do any of the above.

If countries begin to allow the rich to prioritize their own interests during the vaccine rollout, the consequences could be disastrous.

In a time when the world is stoked by fear and uncertainty, the worst thing that can happen is for rich companies to exacerbate inequalities by effectively choosing who lives or dies.

As the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization said at the beginning of the global vaccine rollout: “any distribution of vaccines should advance human well-being and honor global equity, national equity, reciprocity, and legitimacy.”

Poor Brazilians should not be left to fend for themselves against COVID-19 simply because they are poor.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com