Rushed Vaccine Won't Save Us
America’s coronavirus problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
Donald Trump has made sure of it.
With his Operation Warp Speed, Trump is trying like mad to push the Food and Drug Administration to approve a miracle cure before the November election. It’s just one final Hail Mary attempt to win another four years in office, and possibly keep himself out of federal prison, as if the public will somehow forget all those who have died as a result of his gross mishandling of the crisis.
The body count is now approaching 190,000, and it is sure to continue increasing exponentially as long as Trump continues down this path of irresponsible leadership, whether there is a vaccine or not.
Even if there is a major breakthrough in the next two months, like the government is indicating there will be, America still has a big problem. Aside from the obvious logistical dilemma of distributing more than 300 million doses, vaccines don’t end viral epidemics. Vaccinations do. And thanks to Donald Trump’s lack of credibility, it’s difficult to imagine anyone will step up to serve as human guinea pigs once the FDA grants its approval.
It is already clear that Trump has politicized the FDA and the CDC, and these once venerable organizations have buckled under the pressure. When the CDC put out guidance last week that potentially asymptomatic people who had been exposed to COVID-19 did not need to be tested, its reputation in the medical community shattered. Is there a single person in this country who believes that there will have been adequate clinical trials?
Anti-Trump voters will absolutely not trust that proper safety protocols were taken in the development of the vaccine, so they are unlikely to risk taking it.
But what about Trump’s hard-core supporters? They usually follow him with an inexplicable blind allegiance and believe even his wildest prevarications. That fact notwithstanding, these are people who are predisposed to be anti-vaxxers, so the chances they rush out in large numbers to get vaccinated are also extremely slim.
Who else is there?
It stands to reason the first people to get this rushed vaccine would be health-care workers, nursing home patients and the elderly. But then another problem will almost certainly arise in the form of the media.
News organizations will pounce every time there is a known complication. This could end up being a good thing or a bad thing. If the vaccine isn’t safe and effective, as the government will be insisting, then journalists will have done their job by warning us.
However, if it is relatively safe and effective, and there are just a few complications here and there -- as there almost certainly will be -- news organizations could take a small problem and blow it out of proportion, further frightening an already skittish public.
Either way, the public is going to be wary.
We are already living in a climate of disinformation, especially when it comes vaccines. Many Americans inconceivably refuse to get their children inoculated for the measles, mumps and rubella, because they falsely believe the MMR vaccine causes autism, a notion that has been debunked time and again. Yet, before COVID-19 became a thing, the United States endured its biggest measles outbreak in years.
And that is a vaccine that has a nearly 50-year track record for efficacy.
For a vaccine to work, a large enough percentage of the population needs to get it to create herd immunity. That would, in turn, protect the small percentage who cannot because they are compromised or have other mitigating factors.
That means the tin-foil-hat crowd must come on board, which will be difficult considering they currently believe Bill Gates is trying to microchip people through his philanthropic efforts. Without them, and everybody else’s commitment, COVID-19 may never go away.
Warp speed or not, it’s clear our pandemic isn’t ending any time soon.