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To avoid the COVID delta variant, what price are you willing to pay? | Editorial
Let’s run some costs and benefits numbers on the price of sickness and of health.
Sergio Sida-Valdez, left, of Alivio Medical Center administers a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to Maria Beltran at a Chicago Department of Public Health COVID-19 vaccination site at Swap-o-Rama in Chicago on Aug. 8, 2021.
Sergio Sida-Valdez, left, of Alivio Medical Center administers a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to Maria Beltran at a Chicago Department of Public Health COVID-19 vaccination site at Swap-o-Rama in Chicago on Aug. 8, 2021.
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Aug. 27

There are a lot of inexpensive precautions people can take to avoid the worst effects of the COVID delta variant — ending up in intensive care or worse, dead. So let’s run some numbers. Which price do you want to pay?

Vaccines: Free for the patient, about $20 per dose for the taxpayer

A Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine vial.
A Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine vial. [ PASCAL GUYOT | AFP ]

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the one most commonly used in the United States. It is incredibly effective at protecting the vaccinated from serious illness and death. The federal government paid $19.50 a dose or $39 for administering the full two-dose course for the first 100 million.

Masks: About $2 each

A young boy wears an N95 mask as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19.
A young boy wears an N95 mask as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19. [ MD RAFAYAT HAQUE KHAN | ZUMAPRESS.com ]

Once in short supply, the best ones — N-95 masks — are easy to buy. For example, Home Depot sells a 10-pack of 3M N-95 masks for $20.47. You wear a mask to protect others more than yourself, but N-95s can do both well. If everyone wears a mask, they are very effective at reducing transmission of the contagious delta variant.

Monoclonal antibodies: Free for the patient, $1,000-plus for the taxpayer

Patients enter the downtown Jacksonville Main Library  as the doors open at a site for free Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatments.
Patients enter the downtown Jacksonville Main Library as the doors open at a site for free Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatments.

This treatment is only for those who already have COVID, administered intravenously in two doses within 10 days of symptoms. Gov. Ron DeSantis has been touting the drugmaker Regeneron’s version of the antibody cocktail.

Intensive care/ventilator: $100,000 and up

Critical care nurses Marie Pelkey, left, and Holly Vilione tend to the needs of an intubated COVID-19 patient under their care.
Critical care nurses Marie Pelkey, left, and Holly Vilione tend to the needs of an intubated COVID-19 patient under their care.

Those sick enough from COVID to need intensive care or a ventilator pay a high price. Insured patients are likely to max out their deductible, and it’s worse for those without insurance. According to FAIR Health, the median price charged to an uninsured patient in Florida is $235,000.

A funeral and burial: More than $10,000

What's it worth to avoid an untimely demise?
What's it worth to avoid an untimely demise?

More than 40,000 Floridians have already died of COVID. The average cost of a funeral and burial is about $10,700. That’s just the price in dollars, not the emotional and spiritual loss.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.