President Donald Trump of the United States and Vice President Mike Pence visited sites on Monday where multiple COVID-19 vaccines are being developed simultaneously. This marked the start of the largest Phase 3 clinical trial yet as he aims to deliver 300 million safe and effective doses by January 2021.
The facilities which have begun production house the first batch of a possible vaccine developed by Novavax — a Maryland company which received $1.6 billion from the US federal government under Operation Warp Speed, and a different vaccine candidate developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. These vaccines and therapeutics include drug remdesivir and convalescent plasma.
Mixed Responses and a Divided Public
Trump's standing in the polls — trailing former US Vice President Joe Biden less than 100 days before the elections in November, underscores the urgency to deliver a vaccine in time for the presidential elections in the hopes of guaranteeing a second term. However, it is precisely because of the impending Election Day looming over him that some members of Congress fear that this aggressive push for a vaccine — after the initial dreadful mishandling of the pandemic by the administration, might incite him to take unethical shortcuts in the vaccine-approval process.
Many view this as not only a potentially problematic political move to secure votes but also a highly risky endeavour that could be dangerous to national public health. This not only comes in the wake of a fresh nationwide spike in coronavirus cases but could leave the already hard-hit US economy in an even more complex predicament if it fails.
Only time will tell
About 4.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States and there have been more than 146,000 deaths. Many White House officials believe that a vaccine is necessary to fully restore a sense of normalcy in the country.