Here’s a pop quiz. Which of these rash acts is the stupidest?
a) Frying your hand in cooking oil
b) Breaking your thumb with a hammer
c) Swimming laps in a polluted river
d) Volunteering to be Donald Trump’s guinea pig
If you were nuts enough to do a, b, or c, at least you’d know what kinds of treatment would nurse you back to health. But signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine that’s been rushed to market because the Leader needs an electoral Hail Mary? Taking his word (of all people) that it’s safe and effective?
I’d sooner eat a defunct Trump Steak, get drunk on defunct Trump Vodka, or belt myself onto the defunct Trump Shuttle.
Trump is like the Pigpen character in the Peanuts strip, kicking up clouds of dirt wherever he goes. First he catastrophically botches the pandemic response – the latest models say that by the end of the year, 2,000 Americans will die each day – and now he’s meddling with the vaccine response every time he flaps his big yap.
The last thing we need, at this juncture, is to hear this grifter play politics with vaccine development. The last thing we need is for the public to lose faith in the science. But did we ever expect anything different?
The scientific consensus is that no safe, effective vaccine will be widely available until early next year or beyond. The crucial Phase III human trials are barely underway – for only three vaccine candidates – and there’s no guarantee that they’ll pass muster. (Stuff like this happens.) Even the guy who heads Trump’s grandly titled Operation Warp Speed told NPR the other day that the odds of a miracle cure by November is “very, very low…extremely unlikely.”
But Trump, who’s desperate to stay in office and elude prosecution, is laser-focused on a certain day in November. He just can’t help himself, because his sole objective is to save himself.
Last week he said there could be a vaccine “before the end of the year and maybe even before November 1. I think we can probably have it some time in October.” On Monday he again said, “It could be during the month of October, actually could be before November…We’ll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I’m talking about…The vaccine will be very safe and very effective, and it’ll be delivered very soon. You could have a very big surprise coming up.”
He assailed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for questioning the rush to market, claiming that they were “politicizing” vaccines. He said that while ballyhooing the dream of a vaccine by Election Day.
So, serious question: Would you inject a rushed vaccine into your veins on his say-so? Would you take the word of a guy who pressured the FDA to OK the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients? (The FDA later revoked it because the treatment didn’t work.) Would you take the word of a guy who has suggested that people treat themselves with disinfectant? Who used to tweet anti-vaxxer propaganda, claiming without a shred of valid evidence that childhood vaccinations cause autism?
Fortunately, the public is wise to this particular con. According to a new national poll, only 21 percent of voters say they’re willing to take a vaccine that’s brought to market in 2020. Which means that not even the MAGA cultists are anxious to be lab rats.
Indeed, the quack president is so egregious that he makes Big Pharma look like good guys. On Tuesday, nine companies currently in the hunt for a vaccine felt compelled to reassure the public that they will not tolerate any political meddling: “We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which COVID-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved.”
But how’s this for a solution:
If a vaccine suddenly appears before Election Day, the first person to inject it and demonstrate its safety should be Donald Trump. In a public ceremony. Let’s see if he’s willing to put his body on the line.
Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. His work appears Email him at [email protected].