As Donald Trump indicated that a Covid-19 vaccine might become available before the November 3rd election, the establishment media and political left were swift to downplay the possibility, questioning the trustworthiness of any vaccine touted by his administration.
Kamala Harris was quickest out of the blocks, saying scientists who interfere or question the process will “be muzzled, they’ll be suppressed, they will be sidelined”, in the Trump administration’s alleged haste to find a solution to the Covid-19 virus.
“Because he’s looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days and he’s grasping to get whatever he can to pretend he has been a leader on this issue when he is not,” Harris told CNN.
Her comments drew sharp criticism from the Trump administration, with the health and human services department secretary Alex Azar telling CBS that her remarks were “irresponsible”.
“I think it’s very irresponsible how people are trying to politicize notions of delivering a vaccine to the American people,” he claimed.
Trump for his part has insisted that any vaccine developed under Operation Warp Speed will be “very safe and very effective” and could be delivered as early as October.
He insisted that Joe Biden, who had earlier told reporters the president was undermining public confidence in a vaccine, and Kamala Harris should “immediately apologize for the reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric that they are talking right now.”
“They’re going to make the vaccine into a negative,” the president said, later adding, “Now they’re saying, ‘Wow, Trump’s pulled this off. OK, let’s disparage the vaccine.’ That’s so bad for this country. That’s so bad for the world to even say that.”
Similarly to Russia and China, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated their willingness to authorize the use of a vaccine before phase three of trials, making a pre-election breakthrough a theoretical possibility in what would be the fastest delivery of a vaccine for a novel virus in history.
The head of Operation Warp Speed is Moncef Slaoui, who previously directed the vaccines department at pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline. He told the Washington Post that delivery has nothing to do with the November election, and that their approach “is 100 percent based on facts and data.”
The development is quicker than usual because the Trump administration is “running all elements of development of a vaccine in parallel, rather than wait sequentially”, meaning that some already manufactured vaccines are only undergoing clinical trials now.
“We may have the end point in October. We may have it on November 4, who knows? We may have it on December 15. … I would resign instantly if I was forced to do something that I thought would be inappropriate,” Slaoui said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week urged states to waive certain requirements that would prevent distribution before November 1st, a move that might not be necessary if Dr. Anthony Fauci’s prediction that a vaccine will not be acquired by then comes true. He responded to the president’s comments by saying that while a breakthrough is “not impossible”, it is unlikely.
The WHO, whom the Trump administration severed ties with after the outbreak, also appeared to downplay the possibility of a vaccine until mid-2021, claiming that, contrary to the FDA, phase three of clinical trials must be prolonged to ensure the efficacy and safety of any potential solutions.
Ultimately, even if a vaccine were offered, large numbers of Americans have indicated they won’t be taking up the offer according to USA Today, with two thirds of those polled saying they won’t get the injection if and when it becomes available.