Editorial writers examine these public health topics.

The New York Times: When healthcare workers are protected, so are patients

America was in a health care crisis before Covid, and the stress of the pandemic made it worse. Since the start of the pandemic, the healthcare workforce – the nation’s largest industry by employment – ​​has shrunk by almost 2%. It may seem like a small amount, but historically the healthcare workforce is not shrinking; it’s only growing. Now, with astronomical turnover and growing demand as patients seek care they may have delayed during the height of the pandemic, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and home care agencies across the country lack sufficient staff to adequately care for patients. (Gabriel Winant and Therese Brown, 5/9)

Bloomberg: They got Covid on purpose to help scientists learn more about it

Jacob Hopkins, 24, tried hard not to catch Covid-19 in the months leading up to March 2021, when, if successful, he could be part of a once-in-a-lifetime experiment in which he was deliberately infected with the virus. Nearly a year earlier, he had put his name on a list of volunteers. Months passed until, on December 23, he finally heard from someone associated with the experiment. He ended up being the very first volunteer to receive the infection – patient 1. (Faye Flam, 5/6)

The Washington Post: We have early warnings for hurricanes. We need it for pandemics

Each coronavirus particle carries a kind of barcode from Mother Nature inside: the genome, or genetic fingerprint. Thanks to advances in bioinformatics, scientists can use genetic sequencing to read the barcode, identify the variant, spot the mutations, and map the possible spread among people. There is a growing consensus that tracking this with viral genomic surveillance can provide critical early warning of public health emergencies – but only if resources and commitment are mobilized. (5/8)

Los Angeles Times: We’re losing the fight against superbugs, but there’s still hope

As parents, we inherently want to protect our children. We tell them stories with happy endings and reassure them that there are no monsters hiding under the bed. But there’s an enemy living among us that poses a deadly threat to children and adults alike – and we’re just not doing enough to stop it. These enemies are “superbugs”, bacteria and fungi resistant to antibiotics and other drugs. All microbes, from everyday bacteria to killer superbugs, are constantly evolving. And paradoxically, exposing microbes to antimicrobials — whether it’s a common antibiotic for strep throat or a powerful antifungal treatment given in the hospital — can make them stronger in the long run. (Annabelle De Saint-Maurice, 5/8)

Chicago Tribune: Now is the time to end racial health disparities in the United States

A year ago, a black man named Gary Fowler died of COVID-19 after seeking treatment at three Detroit hospitals. All three fired Gary. A few days later, he died at home sitting in a recliner in his bedroom after leaving a handwritten note that read, “Irregular heartbeats… low oxygen level. “I first heard of Gary and his family shortly after his death, and their experience haunted me. He personalized the senseless tragedy that communities of color across America have continued to face throughout this pandemic. (David Satcher, 5/9)

The New York Times: Dementia is a place where my mother lives. That’s not who she is

On a recent Sunday, I brought my 86-year-old mother, Bunny, an extremely garish faux pearl ring with a rubber band. She loved it. Rings are of great value to her now, as they can dazzle and are never out of reach. My mother has terminal dementia. Every time I put the ring on her finger, it will be the first time. Dementia is a land where my mother lives. It’s not who she is. I see it as a real place, like the Acropolis or Yonkers. A place where beloved and ancient queens and kings retreat, where linear time does not exist, and societal rules are set aside. Every time I go to my parents’ double-wide in Hayward, Calif., I truly travel towards dementia. (Suzanne Finnamore, 5/8)

Stat: Developing scientific talent in developing countries to prevent future health crises

There is a worldwide clamor to return to pre-pandemic “normal”. In reality, however, a fall 2019 reset is out of the question. Leaders at all levels, everywhere, must apply the painful lessons learned over the past three years. And that means fundamentally changing the global approach to many aspects of health security. A good starting point: rethinking the paradigm of global scientific cooperation. (Muhammad Ali Pate and Michelle A. Williams, 5/8)

Stat: Strengthening Gavi is a way forward for global vaccine equity

The Biden administration’s upcoming Covid-19 summit will highlight the global failure to achieve vaccine equity. Although nearly 12 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide and 80% of people in high-income countries have been vaccinated, as I write this, in low-income countries, only 16% of people have received a vaccine. Poor countries have been left behind for multiple reasons: rich, vaccine-producing countries have skipped the queue, the costs and challenges of delivering vaccines have been vastly underestimated, international coordination has failed , etc. This isn’t the first time that a global effort to reach people equitably with vaccines has required a new way of doing business. A transformation that happened more than 20 years ago gives hope that it can happen again. (Nina Schwalbe, 5/9)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news outlets. Sign up for an email subscription.