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We need a completely different approach to the pandemic and our economy as a whole



Interview by
Nicole Aschoff

In the better part of a year, the world has struggled with SARS-CoV-2, a new coronavirus that has killed nearly a million people and sickened millions upon millions. In the United States, the virus has wreaked havoc, especially on older members of the population. Americans aged fifty-five and older account for more than 90 percent of the nearly two hundred thousand American COVID-19 deaths, while approx. 0.2 percent were people under 25 years of age.

Efforts to curb the virus have led to further pain. By the end of August, about nineteen million Americans were out of work as a result of the pandemic, and food and housing insecurity has risen dramatically. But the pain caused by lockdowns is not shared equally.

Elites have seen their stock portfolios balloon in value, and many professionals have been able to keep their jobs by working from home. It is the country̵

7;s poor households and working class, especially those with children, who have borne a disproportionate share of the burden. Lower-income Americans were much more likely to be forced to work in precarious conditions, to have lost their livelihoods due to the closure of business and school, or unable to learn remotely.

Jacobin editorial member Nicole Aschoff sat down with two public health experts to discuss the challenge of keeping Americans safe without forcing working people to bear the brunt of pain and risk.

Katherine Yih is a biologist and epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, where she specializes in infectious disease epidemiology, immunization, and licensed vaccination safety monitoring. Yih is also one of the founders of the New World Agriculture and Ecology Group, a former and current member of Science for the People and a longtime activist in agricultural work and anti-imperialist struggles.

Martin Kulldorff is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Kulldorff has developed methods for detecting and monitoring infectious disease outbreaks used by public health departments around the world. Since April, he has been an active participant in the COVID-19 strategy debate in the United States, his home country of Sweden and elsewhere. This interview is easily edited for clarity.





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