Rutgers Global Health Institute director Richard Marlink and core faculty member Nir Eyal were the featured guests in episode 9 of the On the Pandemic podcast, which first aired today. On the Pandemic is a RutgersCast series in which university experts and leaders in health examine the critical challenges we face in our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The series is hosted biweekly by Mary Marchetta O’Dowd, Rutgers’ executive director of health systems and population health integration, who is also a core member of the institute.

In the episode, “Lessons Learned from Around the Globe,” Marlink and Eyal share insights on various countries’ approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as pandemic-related inequities both among and within countries.

Lessons Learned from Around the Globe

Rutgers Global Health Institute director Richard Marlink and core faculty member Nir Eyal were featured guests in episode 9 of Rutgers’ On the Pandemic podcast.

Eyal, who directs the Center for Population-Level Bioethics within the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, said that in some cases, public health recommendations are unclear and should be studied. “What exact policy is optimal in school opening? Every European country has its own variant of that policy,” he said. As opposed to anecdotal comparisons between countries, in which results may be due to other underlying differences, Eyal suggested that randomizing and comparing different zip codes would create “what scientists call a cluster randomized study, and that would give us the information that, now more than a year into this pandemic, we lack on many questions.”

Eyal and Marlink also discussed COVID-19 vaccine access, policies, and distribution strategies, citing both ethical concerns and practical considerations about global vaccine inequity when it comes to ending the pandemic and protecting the global economy.

Marlink called this inequity “a moral embarrassment” and cited three key reasons why wealthy countries need to take action to ensure more equitable distribution. “It’s just the right thing to do to help each other and get the vaccines to the poor countries. But number two, if we want to think selfishly, we have to stop this virus from circulating in all countries,” he said, adding that the more the virus circulates, the more it mutates and creates mutants that “could bypass the vaccines’ effectiveness or even be more deadly.” The third reason he cited is that COVID-19 has profound economic impacts, and that localized economic recovery is not enough. “We’re all linked worldwide in terms of economies,” he said.

Listen to the episode on Anchor by Spotify.