If a vaccine comes out before the election, there are very good reasons not to take it.
rue to the president’s word—or threat, perhaps—the United States government is preparing to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine on, or before, Nov. 1, even though none of the more than 150 vaccines in the research pipeline worldwide have completed Phase 3 safety and efficacy clinical trials. In its mad sprint to Election Day, the White House has funneled billions of dollars into drug companies and ordered government agencies to execute their public health duties at breakneck speeds that defy credulity. Like most experts closely watching these developments, I have no confidence that a safe, effective vaccine will be ready for use by Halloween. Worse, I can no longer recommend that anyone retain faith in any public health pronouncements issued by government agencies.
State and territorial governors across America have received a letter dated Aug. 27 from the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Redfield, instructing them to grant facilities and licensing to a private contractor, McKesson Co., for mass immunizations. “CDC urgently requests your assistance in expediting applications for these distribution facilities,” Redfield wrote, “and, if necessary, asks that you consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020.”
With that mass vaccination date less than 58 days away—and, surely not coincidentally, two days before the national elections—states must scramble to submit their immunization scheme to the CDC for approval by Oct. 1. This must cover everything from logistics and personnel to public education and recruitment. The pace required here is astounding, dramatically more rapid than any prior drug or vaccine rollout in history. Though officials insist no corners are being cut, the timetable is simply too short for full safety analysis of any vaccine.