Biden is right to prioritize epidemic
President-elect Joe Biden is correct in making the COVID-19 epidemic a top priority. His strategy likely will be much different than that of incumbent President Donald Trump. Limiting the coronavirus’ spread and treating those infected by it have had to be the Trump administration’s battle plan. Whether one agrees with how the president has handled it or not, his options were limited.
But give credit where it is due: Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” regarding development and production of a vaccine against COVID-19 was the right call, and it gives options to the next administration. Behind “Operation Warp Speed” were two key recognitions. One was that while scientific safeguards had to be observed during development of a vaccine, simple bureaucratic red tape had to be cut. It appears that has been accomplished. A second consideration is getting large quantities of effective vaccine to Americans as quickly as possible. Pinning all our hopes on a single laboratory’s work would have been foolish.
Instead, the administration made it clear taxpayers’ money would be used to help pursue vaccine research by multiple labs. In addition, production of multiple vaccine formulas would be funded to that, once an effective, safe formulation was found, millions of doses could be available for distribution. Stocks of ineffective, perhaps not safe vaccines would be disposed.
It is a costly approach — but one that could get vaccine to the most vulnerable of us quickly. That is just what may happen. This week, Pfizer Inc. revealed it has what appears to be a safe vaccine that is 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. More work needs to be done, but Pfizer would not have made the announcement without good grounds for optimism.
If the Pfizer formula proves itself, millions of doses of vaccine could be available by December. Biden seems cautiously optimistic — but, to his enormous credit, also realistic. He welcomed the news from Pfizer, but added that the nation still faces a “dark winter” with COVID-19.
Still — again if the Pfizer formula lives up to expectations — the outlook is not as grim as it was just a few weeks ago.
COVID-19 already has killed nearly 238,000 Americans. Scientific analysis indicates that during the next few months, the toll may top 400,000.
Biden will have to hit the ground sprinting, and he knows that. At least he will not be, in effect, facing the foe unarmed. Devising a two-part strategy based on the vaccine but in recognition prevention continues to be vital — and convincing Americans to go along with that plan — may save tens of thousands of lives.