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Letters to the Editor: Only a profit-driven healthcare system would stall a COVID-19 immunity shot

COVID plasma
Blood plasma donated by a recovered COVID-19 patient is collected at the Hoag Health Center in Irvine on April 28.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Your front-page headline suggests there might be a treatment for COVID-19 using a simple injection. But U.S. companies will not develop this immunity shot because it won’t “boost profit margins,” as development of a vaccine will supersede any injection that has only short-term effects.

This pandemic has again lifted the shroud, revealing weakness in our healthcare system, which relies on profit to guide medical decision-making.

Many countries that seek to provide worthy care to their citizens will surely launch efforts to bring this injection to market, while Americans will continue to languish in poor health. Our priorities jeopardize our future.

Gene Dorio, MD, Santa Clarita

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To the editor: Reading this article, I wonder why the proposed COVID-19 plasma shot combined with antibody testing couldn’t potentially enable schools to safely open in the fall.

Opening up schools is crucial in re-energizing our society, and it appears feasible to have a sufficient number of children and teachers protected from the coronavirus.

Leadership up and down the line, from local officials to the federal government, is required to work in lockstep to defeat this pandemic. But eventually, coordination and muscle must come from the top so that one buyer can effectively manage the marketplace. Up to this point, the feds have shied away from the COVID-19 injection and antibody test markets.

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Bolder and more unambiguous actions are needed to safely invigorate our communities. With all the tools now available, we have the ingenuity to safely open up schools and return to work.

Leo Licciardone, Hawthorne

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To the editor: I find myself dismayed and angered to read that it may be possible to collect protective immune globulins for use as short-term protection for frontline workers treating COVID-19 patients.

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The process of developing such passive protection is being delayed by authorities focused on creating a vaccine to provide active immunity. This article reports that the government is reluctant to pursue passive immunity in favor of a vaccine, which would be more profitable for vaccine makers.

The notion that we would not pursue use of injectable immune globulin to protect our frontline workers — and elderly Latinx and Black Americans, who are disproportionately being infected and dying — is outrageous. It is even more indefensible because a short-term immunity shot would in no way compete with a vaccine.

With more than 130,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County and more than 3,800 deaths, we should be collecting antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to temporarily protect workers and vulnerable populations, as we did when confronted with other infectious diseases.

Brian Johnston, Culver City


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