The priority for those who receive the “extremely limited” supply of the new COVID-19 pills will be determined by race, the New York State Department of Health has revealed.
The public health department appeared to announce this week that non-white New Yorkers would receive priority over whites in receiving the therapies for Covid.
In a document dated December 27, the state’s top health officials announced that two antiviral oral therapies – Paxlovid and molnupiravir – had received emergency use authorization.
The department celebrated the news as the pills will “reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 88% and 30% respectively.”
However, the department said supplies would be “extremely limited initially.”
Therefore, they would have to be distributed based on its “guidance on prioritization.”
That guidance currently prioritizes those who are either moderately or severely immunocompromised or have at least one risk factor for severe illness.
Though these risk factors include suffering from cancer, dementia, or diabetes, among other diseases, the department stated that being non-white “should be considered a risk factor, as long-standing systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19.”
Social media users have expressed outrage over the guidance, describing it as “blatant racism” and “morally appalling.”
“White people need not apply,” reacted New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz.
Lawyer and Republican Party official Harmeet Dhillon wrote, “This is illegal and should be enjoined.”
“How is the race or ethnicity of a patient a legitimate criterion for the allocation of scarce clinical resources (like drugs or hospital beds) by a government entity in 2021 in the USA?” questioned Yale Professor Nicholas A. Christakis.
“And how could this even be constitutional?” he added.