President Donald Trump seems to be prioritizing his campaign for re-election above the value of American lives. On May 15, 2020, Trump implemented Operation Warp Speed (OWS), placing an expedited process on creating a vaccine to combat COVID-19, which is to be released around Election Day. He has received criticism from the public over his accelerated efforts to create a vaccine. If the vaccine is released before Election Day, it will be the fastest vaccine that has ever been produced. Typically, a vaccine will go through years of trials before it is distributed to the public. This raises concerns for the safety of American citizens that plan to be vaccinated.
The Department of Health and Human Services indicates Trump aims to have at least 300 million doses of a vaccine and wants to start administering them to the public by October of 2020. Manufacturing the vaccine at an industrial scale well before the demonstration of vaccine efficacy and safety will occur, they indicated that large scale distribution is only a financial risk and will not affect the efficiency of the vaccine. However, the speculated release date of the vaccine is alarming. Trump is doing everything in his power to try to get the vaccine released as quickly as possible. He needs something to show the public that he can speed up the process of reopening the country. The Trump administration has already made some misguided steps trying to get the country back on track. The vaccine is his Hail Mary attempt at gaining a larger appeal from the public.
The claims that releasing the vaccine to large scale production as soon as possible will only be a financial risk and not a product risk is difficult to back. The expedited process does bring concern about the long-term effects the vaccine may have. Since the vaccine will be distributed quickly, it is only putting more people at risk to suffer adverse effects. The last thing the U.S. needs is another half-hearted effort at reopening the country.
The safety of the elderly and those that are immunocompromised should be the vaccine’s main target. These groups of people have been hit the hardest by COVID-19. Scientific American notes once people reach the age of 30 they can develop a resistance to the vaccine. This risk greatly increases amongst the elderly, which is troublesome, since they need the vaccine the most. To avoid the rejection of the vaccine amongst the elderly, they must increase the potency, which only creates a larger risk for elderly patients.
A survey completed by Gallup indicates that 35 percent of Americans would choose not to get a vaccine even if it is free and approved by the FDA. They also found that 81 percent of Democrats would get the vaccine and only 47 percent of Republicans were willing too. Trump does not appear to be receiving much backing from Republicans when it comes to being vaccinated. The rapid development of the vaccine does have some people apprehensive — especially the anti-vaxxers that are running rampant and continuing to increase. They have an opportunity to recruit more individuals for their movement with the use of the COVID-19 vaccine. Most of the people that are at the forefront of this movement are parents that refuse to vaccinate their kids. They believe that pharmaceutical companies do not do enough testing on the long-term effects vaccines can have. If the COVID-19 vaccine were to have negative side effects, it will only fuel the anti-vaxxers campaign.
The rapid production of a vaccine has not taken place since President Ford’s attempt before the 1976 election. According to Discover Magazine, 45 million U.S. citizens were vaccinated within 10 months of Ford’s orders due to a swine flu outbreak at Fort Dix. This backfired for Ford, because over 450 people suffered from Guillain-Barré syndrome after being vaccinated. Mass vaccinations were then brought to a halt. More research should have been done on the vaccine before it was quickly released. Ford put his political career above the American people. History should be used to help people from avoiding errors of the past. The Trump administration finds itself in a similar situation to Ford; he was able to get elected in 1976, but American citizens were jeopardized in the process. Ford’s actions caused American citizens to become wary when deciding to get vaccines. We are in a culture of distrust, which does not play in Trump’s favor.
The price of the vaccine has yet to be announced. This will play a vital role in the number of people that are willing to be vaccinated. Large pharmaceutical companies are involved in the race to develop a vaccine. The U.S. pharmaceutical drug market has proven to be quite lucrative for those involved. The COVID-19 vaccine is an easy money grab for them because of its widespread plans of distribution. Kaiser Health News shared that the Food and Drug Administration cannot be involved in the discussion of drug prices. Medicare cannot be involved with negotiations of drug prices either. These pharmaceutical companies profit from unfair drug prices. The company that creates a vaccine for COVID-19 will see tremendous financial growth. The government indicates it will do its best to deliver affordable vaccine prices. Hopefully, they can stay committed to making the vaccine available to everyone. The lower the price of the vaccine will help in increasing the likelihood of more individuals being vaccinated. Lower-income communities have been hit harder by COVID-19; making a vaccine they can afford is important. A good amount of people in that community are essential workers. They need the vaccine because they are the ones working high risk jobs.
The time leading up to Election Day will be something to pay attention to. Operation Warp Speed may live up to its name, but it is still a lofty goal. The public will then have to place their trust in the government’s capability to produce a safe vaccine. The trust is becoming smaller with groups such as anti-vaxxers spreading skepticism into the American people. It is only a matter of time before the vaccine hits the market. The vaccine can have the potential to help the country recover from the economic effects of the pandemic; or, it can be another failed attempt at escaping the pandemic while further harming Americans.
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