- Playing politics with COVID-19 Vaccine would cause delay in the development and implementation of administering it.
- Will politics influence scientists in carrying out their research and development of COVID-19 vaccine?
- When will the 7.8 billion world’s population get the COVID-19 vaccine?
On 27 August 2020, President Trump accepted his party’s nomination for another term at the Republican National Convention. He promised that his administration’s Operation Warp Speed would deliver a COVID-19 vaccine successfully before the end of “before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner.” Thus the United States emerged as ‘a poster child of vaccine nationalism’.
The pandemic entered the most protected place in the world ‘the White house’. Everyone talked about The magic potion – the cocktail that saved the President. The pandemic, a challenge by nature demanded a scientific fix- the vaccine. Social distancing, lockdowns even the simple ‘to wear or not to wear’ a mask received mass rebuttal. But a majority of people, welcomed the development of a vaccine, it seemed simple and benevolent.
The next step therefore was to accelerate the laboratories, spike up the bioreactors and get ready to make billions of doses. To make and give the COVID-19 vaccine to the vast population is a massive responsibility. It involves not only drug development, but also scientific research and all this takes place in the laboratories of Big Pharmaceutical companies.
Given the political pressure on COVID vaccine manufacture, the first corona virus gathering of the advisory committee would be the most-watched in FDA history. Pharmaceutical companies use IP and patent protection to protect their research and development of vaccine and ultimately get a biologic approval by the FDA. Even if Pfizer’s vaccine trial yields results by Nov.3.2020; FDA review would still take weeks to give decision.
History shows that the SARS corona virus vaccine was produced, after a prolonged wait as the candidates on whom the vaccine was administered had to undergo three rounds of testing followed by the FDA’s protracted approval process. Experts say that the normally the cost of development of a vaccine goes through four stages of approval and cost is more than $1 billion and with no guarantee of success rate.
Covid vaccine involves questions that must be answered. Moncef Slaoui head of Operation Warp Speed’s vaccine development arm said there is very, very low chance of a vaccine being approved by the election day and that he will resign if he feels pressure to approve an unsafe vaccine.
The prescient sociologist, Ulrich Beck, warned about “risk society,” quite some time back, saying that politics is everywhere. There is a nexus between political people, large business and public health. Obviously even if manufacturers accelerate production, there will be shortage of vaccines; millions are at risk, the daring health-care workers, old people, people with pre-existing diseases, Who gets first?
The next question apparently is ‘how many will take it’? Polls show that many Americans are skeptical of getting vaccinated because they don’t trust the vaccine. And what happens after Nov 3 to Warp speed program? The goal of delivering 300 million doses of a corona virus vaccine starting in January 2021 by Warp Speed. Will it be achieved even if the ‘republicans continue to rule’ or ‘if democrats come to power’?
And the BIG question is whether the Superpower Nations, Politicians, Scientists, Businessmen and the vast Public organize and systematically are successful in delivering a high-quality COVID-19 vaccine at a reasonable price to all of the World’s 7.8 Billion inhabitants and if so, WHEN?