Zero Deaths in Vietnam, the Prison Pandemic, and the Return of Rebekah Jones
A roundup of stories we’re reading about the coronavirus today
- Over 421,000 people worldwide have died from Covid-19, but none of those people died in Vietnam, according to the nation’s data. As Dave Lawler at Axios reports, the communist country may be the rare “winner” in this pandemic: Not only is its death count zero (and there’s no evidence of a cover-up), but its government predicts its economy will grow 5% this year — in the middle of a global recession. A number of factors play a role, not least of which is the government’s use of far-reaching surveillance.
- In Arkansas, prisoners have tested positive in four different state prisons, including the Cummins Unit, a facility with a long legacy of scandal that now has one of the worst prison outbreaks in the country. As Anna Stitt reports in the final installment of a three-part series on Arkansas prisons for an NPR affiliate in Little Rock, a coalition of prisoner advocacy groups recently delivered a list of demands to the governor, but he has not yet responded. In the meantime, he has praised the state’s response to controlling the pandemic in its prisons.
- To make a Covid-19 vaccine that’s guaranteed to be safe, it must first be tested on humans — a fraught condition, seeing as the experimental vaccines may have harmful effects. Just look at Ian Haydon, the Seattle resident who was one of the first to volunteer to test Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine and reported a severe reaction after receiving it. In the New York Review of Books, Carl Elliott questions whether there’s an ethical way to make a Covid-19 vaccine, seeking answers from historical examples of experimental drug trials, which were previously done on prisoners and are now done on the poor.
- Remember in mid-May, when a data scientist named Rebekah Jones who worked on Florida’s Covid-19 data dashboards was fired for refusing to manipulate data to support the state’s plans to reopen? Now, as the Palm Beach Post reports, Jones is back, and she’s created a new dashboard to rival the official state version, which has been criticized for underreporting case counts. “People have a right to know what’s going on in a straightforward nonpolitical kind of way,” Jones said.