Keeping COVID-19 Vaccines Moving, the Capitol Attack, Media Literacy: RAND Weekly Recap

blog

January 22, 2021

We discuss how keeping COVID-19 vaccines moving can save more lives; why we need a national commission to investigate the U.S. Capitol attack; media literacy as a tool to counter “Truth Decay”; a U.S. grand strategy of restraint; bias in artificial intelligence; and recreational marijuana.

Nurses prepare to vaccinate people at a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site in Detroit, Michigan, January 15, 2021, photo by Emily Elconin/Reuters

Photo by Emily Elconin/Reuters

To Save More Lives, Keep Vaccines Moving

In his inaugural address yesterday, President Biden emphasized that urgency and unity will be required to confront the many crises facing the United States. Foremost among these challenges is “a once-in-a-century virus” that has now claimed more than 400,000 American lives.

Dramatically ramping up vaccinations is a key part of the Biden administration's plan to reverse the pandemic's deadly course. The president has set a goal for the nation to administer 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days, and today he is signing a series of executive orders aimed at improving the national response to COVID-19.

According to RAND experts, a strategy that keeps the vaccines moving—rather than stockpiling them in anticipation of changing demand—could help save more lives. “Every day that a dose waits in a freezer raises the risk of a person getting COVID-19.”

Supporters of President Donald Trump confront police in the U.S. Capitol near the entrance to the Senate, in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021, photo by Mike Theiler/Reuters

Supporters of then-President Donald Trump confront police in the U.S. Capitol near the entrance to the Senate, January 6, 2021

Photo by Mike Theiler/Reuters

Why We Need a Commission to Investigate the Capitol Riot

Just how concerning was the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol? “A branch of the federal government has not been so seriously threatened since 9/11,” says RAND's Brian Michael Jenkins. And addressing this threat demands the inquiry of a national commission. Such a commission could analyze whether this was an isolated uprising or the harbinger of more to come. It could also help prevent similar attacks in the future.

Books and a laptop in a library, photo by Nutthaseth Vanchaichana/Getty Images

Photo by Nutthaseth Vanchaichana/Getty Images

Media Literacy: A Tool to Address Truth Decay

Improving individuals' media literacy could help counter Truth Decay, the diminishing role of facts in American public life. But how can media literacy education be implemented most effectively? To find out, RAND researchers reviewed existing research and guidance on media literacy and developed a concise list of standards that directly address key elements of Truth Decay. This list may be useful for teachers, school leaders, curriculum developers, and policymakers.

A world map puzzle with a piece on top, photo by Yuriy Panyukov/Adobe Stock

Photo by Yuriy Panyukov/Adobe Stock

A U.S. Grand Strategy of Restraint

There is growing public interest in rethinking America's role in the world. One option is to adopt a grand strategy of restraint in which the United States takes a more cooperative approach toward other powers, reduces the size of its military, and ends or renegotiates some security commitments. A new RAND report explores the policy implications of embarking down this path.

Facial recognition technology being used in an airport, photo by izusek/Getty Images

Photo by izusek/Getty Images

Eliminating Bias in Machine Learning

Software tools powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning can exacerbate inequities. That's why rooting out bias—especially when it comes to technology used by law enforcement—is crucial. In a new paper, RAND experts outline a way forward. They note that efforts to address bias should cover the entire technology acquisition process, not just how machine learning models are developed and trained.

Ashlee Mason, 26, serves a customer at The Pottery Cannabis Dispensary, as marijuana deliveries increase amid the spread of COVID-19, in Los Angeles, California, April 14, 2020, photo  by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Ashlee Mason, 26, serves a customer at The Pottery Cannabis Dispensary in Los Angeles, California, April 14, 2020

Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

How the Density of Marijuana Retailers Affects Use

As more and more marijuana retailers open over time, the density of these recreational sellers is associated with more marijuana use and greater intensity of use among young adults. That's according to a new RAND study. This may be an important factor to consider when developing strategies to mitigate the potential public health harms from expanded legal access to marijuana.

Listen to the Recap

Get Weekly Updates from RAND

If you enjoyed this weekly recap, consider subscribing to Policy Currents, our newsletter and podcast.