We discuss what needs to be done to ensure more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19; Afghanistan's worsening refugee crisis; understanding environmental racism; how political polarization may affect health insurance purchasing decisions; helping extremists find pathways to deradicalization; and lessons from past wars in Afghanistan.
How to Boost Vaccine Acceptance
Vaccine hesitancy remains a serious obstacle to ending the pandemic for good. As the delta variant continues to spread, daily U.S. COVID-19 deaths have reached about 1,500—nearly all among unvaccinated people.
A new study by experts at RAND and the University of Michigan Acute Care Research Unit identifies ways to help increase vaccine acceptance in America. The report highlights three key areas of need: boosting confidence in vaccine safety and effectiveness; addressing complacency about the pandemic; and increasing the convenience of receiving the shot. The authors emphasize that combating misinformation about the vaccine is key to achieving these goals.
Afghanistan's Worsening Refugee Crisis
More than 100,000 civilians were evacuated from Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover. This represents just a sliver of the millions of Afghans who were already displaced by war. RAND experts say that hundreds of thousands more people could flee, ending up in squalid camps for decades. Staving off an even bigger humanitarian disaster may depend on whether the international community can press the Taliban to respect humanitarian norms.
Understanding Environmental Racism
Black Americans are disproportionately affected by air and water pollution and are more likely to live near facilities that produce hazardous waste. These disparities have been shaped by past discriminatory policies such as redlining. How can environmental policy reverse such trends? That's what RAND's Jaime Madrigano and Benjamin Preston are seeking to find out. As part of an ongoing series of conversations, they discussed their research with RAND president and CEO Michael Rich.
Political Polarization May Affect Health Plan Purchasing Decisions
Republicans who buy individual health care plans were less likely than Democrats to shop for policies using the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, thus missing out on government subsidies. That's according to a new RAND study. This led to Republicans forgoing an average of about $800 annually compared with similar Democrats. One potential way to close this gap is to make subsidies available to eligible Americans who purchase plans outside of the ACA marketplaces.
Helping Extremists Find Pathways to Deradicalization
Violent extremism—especially violent white extremism—is seen as one of the greatest domestic threats facing the United States. To better understand this problem, RAND researchers interviewed former extremists and their loved ones. Insights from their discussions suggest that America's approach to countering extremism could be improved by focusing resources on preventing it, as if extremism were a virus or an addiction, rather than responding once it becomes a crisis.
Lessons from Afghanistan
From 1839 to 1919, Britain repeatedly waged war against Afghanistan. And more than once, the British thought that they had conquered the country, only to learn otherwise. Examining this history can provide context for understanding America's failed mission there, says RAND's Scott Savitz. “Perhaps the foremost lesson regarding potential intervention in Afghanistan might be a simple one, which could have been learned from the British, Soviet, and many other experiences in that nation: Don't.”
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