We discuss using game theory to make vaccine distribution more efficient; the potential economic benefits of the Abraham Accords; a Q&A on community health and well-being with RAND's Anita Chandra; why a U.S.-China reset is unlikely; disparities in telehealth use; and the latest on U.S. policy in Afghanistan.
The U.S. COVID-19 vaccination effort is in full swing, with more than 2.4 million shots being administered each day. But distributing vaccines has been challenging. States and local health systems have had to rely on improvisation and on-the-fly decisionmaking to create order from chaos—sometimes with mixed results.
So how can the United States achieve more efficient, faster vaccine distribution? The key may be the mathematics discipline known as game theory, says RAND's Luke Muggy. For example, applying game theory could help state authorities calculate how many vaccines need to be sent to each vaccination center. And as vaccination sites expand from health clinics and hospitals to stadiums and event centers, better management tools may be more important than ever.
By signing the Abraham Accords last year, four Muslim nations—the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco—have taken an initial step to normalize ties with Israel. The agreement represents a political breakthrough. But a new RAND paper suggests that it could also move the region away from conflict and toward prosperity. The authors estimate that, assuming new relations evolve into deeper economic integration, Israel's four new partners could see the creation of 150,000 new jobs. This number could grow if more nations sign on.
As the vice president and director of RAND Social and Economic Well-Being, Anita Chandra and her team focus on some of today's toughest challenges, such as rebuilding after the pandemic, answering for centuries of racial injustice, and preparing for the effects of climate change. In a new Q&A, she discusses the role that RAND research can play in finding solutions. “We can offer innovative ways forward for policymakers,” she says, “and make sure they aren't…defining problems the same way they did in the 20th century.”
American and Chinese officials met in Alaska yesterday to discuss the tense state of U.S.-China relations. But resetting the relationship seems unthinkable at this point, says RAND's Derek Grossman. Beijing has refused to change its assertive behavior, and it appears that the Biden administration plans to take an exceptionally hard line against China. Going forward, the two powers are likely to only cooperate on “narrow and limited challenges of mutual concern,” he says.
After the pandemic hit, there was a 20-fold increase in the rate of telemedicine use. But this increase occurred mostly among more affluent people and those who live in metropolitan areas. That's according to a new RAND study. At the same time, office-based medical visits have declined by nearly 50 percent and were not fully offset by telehealth. This evidence reinforces concerns that the pandemic is worsening existing disparities in health care utilization.
Facing stalled peace talks and a May 1 deadline for withdrawing all remaining U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, the United States has thrown what RAND's James Dobbins calls a “Hail Mary” pass. The Biden administration has proposed prioritizing the formation of an interim Afghan government that brings in the Taliban as an equal partner. This seems unlikely to facilitate a troop withdrawal by the deadline, says Dobbins. But it may still be beneficial, because it could lead Kabul and the Taliban to at least begin discussing core issues.
Listen to the Recap
Get Weekly Updates from RAND
If you enjoyed this weekly recap, consider subscribing to Policy Currents, our newsletter and podcast.