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Massachusetts gets F for vaccine rollout from Harvard Kennedy School professor

Massachusetts is lagging most other states in the marathon to provide COVID-19 vaccines to its residents and is currently being outpaced by West Virginia in the number of vaccinations performed on a per capita basis, a Harvard Kennedy School professor contends.

Government Affairs Professor Graham Allison wrote that his analysis of a series of data points show the Baker administration has earned an F score overall, and ranks 42 and 44 in the per capita number of delivered vaccinations and in the percentage of vaccines actually used.

“So if we compare the states to 50 runners in a series of marathons, we can see who is leading - as well as who is bringing up the rear,’' he wrote. “In the first race to protect the lives of its citizens and thus have the fewest deaths per capita, at this point Massachusetts has fallen so far behind that it is almost impossible for it to catch up.”

Yet, Allison offered his view that Governor Baker and Health and Human Services Secretary Sudders can make positive choices that, when combined with an upsurge in the doses sent to the state, could reverse the negative trends.


“If tomorrow, and the day after, and the week after that we run faster in this marathon, we will move up in the race for the highest percentage of our population vaccinated,’' he wrote. “In sum, in this marathon, cheering from the sidelines, we should all be shouting our words of encouragement: run, Charlie, run. Personally, I look forward to the day when our state’s report card will show A’s rather than F’s.”

In the piece Allison faulted the response to the coronavrius pandemic by former President Trump, and said that his loss in the November election stemmed largely from his failures to handle the public health crisis properly.


Proof of that failure can be found by comparing US death and infection rates with other countries where an aggressive, nation-wide plan was quickly put into effect. Singapore, with a population roughly the size of Massachusetts had only 29 deaths, Taiwan with three times the Massachusetts population, just 9 deaths and South Korea with 52 million people and 28,500 American servicemen, recorded 1/50th of the per capita death rate compared to the US, he wrote.

“That means that if our fellow Bay Staters who died in the past year from COVID-19 had relocated to Taiwan or Singapore or Seoul this time last year, they would be alive on this earth today,” he wrote.

Allison concluded that West Virginia and Connecticut were doing a far better job in vaccinating their citizens and in using the doses provided by the federal government. Massachusetts also earned a D for the number of months he estimated it will take Massachusetts to vaccinate eligible residents.

“Grim statistics about this killer disease have been repeated so often that they become numbing,” he wrote. “Most of these deaths would not have occurred if our federal and state governments had taken actions they could have - but failed to do.”

In a footnote, Allison and co-author Hugo Yen wrote that grades were “assigned on a curve in which the top 10 are awarded A’s and the bottom 10 F’s.”

John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.