- The Washington Times
Monday, February 22, 2021

Harvard Medical School assistant professor Michelle E. Morse says a new study she participated in demonstrates how slavery reparations “could have been as effective as a vaccine” for COVID-19.

Researches claim that infection rates for the contagion would have been reduced by up to 68% if Black Americans possessed $250,000 per individual or $800,000 per household for the historical injustice of slavery.

“[Slavery reparations] could have been as effective as a vaccine,” she said for a Harvard Crimson piece published Feb. 16. “I think the fact that the U.S. has skirted its responsibility and avoided reach for reconciliation in a meaningful way for hundreds of years is why we keep seeing the same pattern of racial injustice play out over and over and over again in this country.”

Bram P. Wispelwey, a hospitalist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who did not work on the project, added that the study is the first to show that reparations “can have a health impact directly.”

Researchers said they compared overcrowded housing situations in South Korea and Louisiana to test “COVID-19 time-varying R t curves of relatively disparate polities in terms of social equity.”

In short, they concluded that “wealth redistribution would decrease the ability of affluent whites to cloister themselves in a setting of relative exclusivity.”

“While there are compelling moral and historical arguments for racial-injustice interventions such as reparations, our study considers potential health benefits in the form of reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk,” the researchers said. “A restitutive program targeted towards Black individuals would not only decrease COVID-19 risk for recipients of the wealth redistribution; the mitigating effects would also be distributed across racial groups, benefiting the population at large.”

Their study is part of a broader report by the Lancet Commission on Reparations and Redistributive Justice, the newspaper added. 

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