A triumph worth celebrating
Monday’s news that a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer will be ready for FDA approval this month sent stock markets soaring and everyone celebrating. It is wonderful news for humanity.
A vaccine will slow the deaths, end the lockdowns, allow businesses to reopen, free children to return to school and return life to normal within half a year.
Amazingly, one group isn’t celebrating: Democratic politicians. They’d rather criticize the breakthrough than allow the triumph to occur on President Donald Trump’s watch. Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York and Gov. Gavin Newsom in California are saying FDA approval of the vaccine isn’t enough, and they’ll insist on approval by experts in their own states as well.
That’s unconstitutional. Drug approval is a federal responsibility, and courts have ruled that states should stay out of it.
Cuomo took it a preposterous step further on Monday, arguing that it would be better if the vaccine plan were delayed until Joe Biden became president. With over 1,000 Americans dying a day from COVID-19, Cuomo’s calculation makes no sense.
First, the good news. Pfizer and its German biotech partner, BioNTech, announced Monday that their vaccine appears to be 90% effective against the virus — a stunning achievement. The FDA minimum level of efficacy is 50%, which is standard for flu vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine will offer far more protection. Once Pfizer wins approval, it will sell 20 million doses a month to the United States government, also supply the European Union and Japan and, eventually, produce over 1.3 billion doses.
More good news. Another vaccine developer, Moderna, using a technology similar to Pfizer’s, will announce its data later this month. Moderna’s likely approval will mean there will probably be sufficient production of vaccines in 2021 to stop this virus worldwide.
No wonder airline, cruise ship and restaurant stocks soared by double digits. A vaccine will allow people to travel, dine out and resume life as they knew it pre-COVID-19. Thanks to science.
If only science could cure the cynicism of our politicians. The big lie that drove the presidential election was that Trump was to blame for 230,000 COVID deaths. Joe Biden assailed Trump for opening the economy and vowed to shut it down again if scientists recommended it. Biden promised to get control of the virus, but he was clueless. It was Trump who had the vision to focus on vaccine development.
Biden and Harris vowed they wouldn’t trust a vaccine offered by Trump. These petty comments increased the risk that the public will hesitate to get vaccinated.
Ironically, as news broke about Pfizer’s vaccine, Biden announced his Coronavirus Task Force and outlined his plans to ramp up testing, contact tracing and other defensive measures. Aside from mask-wearing, it was hard to see any daylight between what he recommended and what Trump has been doing for months. Biden barely mentioned the vaccine — the game changer that makes all these other measures unnecessary.
Meanwhile, Cuomo bashed the Trump administration’s vaccine distribution plan for neglecting needy groups and suggested New Yorkers should wait for a vaccine until Biden takes office. The truth is, Trump will distribute the vaccine for free to the general public at retailers like CVS and Walmart. That’s sensible because the public is accustomed to going there for flu vaccines. But health care workers, nursing home residents, the homeless and other vulnerable groups will also get priority.
Cuomo, who has blood on his hands for forcing COVID-19 patients into nursing homes, now wants New Yorkers to wait months longer than residents of other states for a vaccine. Tell that to elderly people who have been trapped in their homes for months.
No matter what your politics, the vaccine breakthrough is a relief. Trump deserves credit. He urged the pharmaceutical giants to invest in vaccine development, committed to buying the vaccines to remove the business risk and streamlined FDA regulations to speed the process. A weary world should be grateful. Well done, Mr. President.