This week, Johnson & Johnson paused a clinical trial of its COVID-19
vaccine candidate because one of its 60,000 participants is
experiencing an “unexplained illness.” This comes after AstraZeneca
briefly paused a trial just last month after one of its 30,000 subjects
had experienced an illness. That trial resumed once an investigation
revealed that the illness was unrelated to the test vaccine, but the
delay is not harmless.
Although any slowdown in the testing of a vaccine is a disappointment
for a world eager to return to normal as soon as possible, both of
these pauses should help debunk the dangerous fearmongering being
pushed by the media and leading Democrats that President Trump is
somehow going to rush out an unsafe vaccine before the election.
In the vice presidential debate last week, Sen. Kamala Harris
reiterated her statement that she would not take a vaccine exclusively
on Trump’s say-so.
“If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell
us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it,
absolutely,” Harris said. “But if Donald Trump tells us that we should
take it, I’m not taking it.”
Her answer is an attempt to give credence to liberal conspiracy
theories over vaccine development while simultaneously dodging
criticism for indulging the anti-vaccination movement. In reality, the
argument is a straw man. There is no universe in which Trump somehow
declares a vaccine safe and effective and individuals suddenly find
themselves in a position to choose whether or not to take it purely on
These self-initiated pauses demonstrate that pharmaceutical companies
are not eager to rush out unsafe vaccines to hundreds of millions of
Furthermore, despite all the talk about the politicization of science
under the Trump administration, the Food and Drug Administration has
released guidance to drugmakers, saying that it would not authorize the emergency use of any COVID-19 vaccine unless the companies monitored
study participants for two months after the conclusion of the trial.
Drugmakers did not protest this, as it had been widely assumed and
Critics of the Trump administration have pointed to the FDA previously authorizing the use of hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma in
treating coronavirus patients as evidence that they would ultimately be
cowed into short-circuiting safety requirements to rush out a vaccine.
But those cases cannot be fairly compared to the considerations
regarding authorizing the use of the vaccine. Previous treatments were
OK'd for the use of patients who were already infected by the
coronavirus and were in a life-or-death situation in which doctors had
to consider trying literally anything possible to improve survival
Any vaccine, however, will be given to hundreds of millions of
perfectly healthy people. Nobody wants to take the risk of injecting
perfectly healthy people with something unless they’re confident that
it is safe.
It was never realistic to think that large drug companies and federal regulators would short-circuit the normal process just to rush out a
vaccine to help Trump's electoral fortunes. That's just crazy talk. The
choice outlined by Democrats such as Harris (of considering whether to
take a vaccine purely on Trump’s say-so) was never going to be a choice
that any person would plausibly have to face.
Given that no vaccine is expected to be effective for everybody who
takes it, an overwhelming majority of the population is likely going to
have to take it to produce anything resembling herd immunity to COVID-
19. Thanks to statements such as those from Harris, however, public
skepticism about a vaccine is higher than it should be — meaning that
the task of public health officials will be made more difficult once a
vaccine hopefully clears regulatory hurdles. This is a dangerous and potentially deadly political game that Democrats are playing.
Democrats and the liberal media hate President Trump more than they
love this country.