Coronavirus Vaccine: Joe Biden Says He’ll Get It … Once Doctors Say It’s Safe
The President-elect made his claim while addressing business and labor leaders Monday on the economic outlook of the country amid the pandemic. Biden says he won’t hesitate to get vaccinated once the COVID meds are “ready for prime time,” and claims the only reason people are untrustworthy of the vaccines in the first place … is because of President Trump
The Trump administration stated that the U.S. will share any coronavirus vaccine it develops with other countries after American needs are met and that the U.S. will not coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO) on distribution.
Most experts predict that a vaccine won’t be widely available until February at the earliest and more likely by July or August. But it’s possible a few vaccine candidates may be ready for regulatory review by the time Biden becomes president in late January. His plan lays out three principles for reviewing candidates: that scientists will make all decisions about safety and efficacy, clinical data for approved vaccines will be made public, and expert criticism would not be censored. These principles address the ongoing concerns that rigorous safety and efficacy testing will be skipped over in favor of expediting a vaccine for political reasons — fears stoked by Trump’s insistence that a vaccine would be available by Election Day.
Though Pfizer, a front-runner in the vaccine race, released data on Monday showing that its candidate vaccine is over 90% effective, Biden urged patience. In a statement, he praised the efforts of Pfizer’s scientists but warned that “it will be many more months before there is widespread vaccination in this country.”
Further underscoring his commitment to science-based policy, Biden named 13 experts to his Covid-19 Advisory Board on Monday, including Rick Bright, MD, a former vaccine expert to the White House who was fired after he filed a whistleblower complaint to Congress about the Trump administration’s failure to heed his advice about acquiring masks and other PPE. In a statement released Monday, he said that this advisory board would “help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”
By making trust in science a central pillar of his plan, Biden takes an important first step toward rebuilding the deeply eroded public trust in the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration. For widespread vaccination to be possible, it’s crucial that Americans trust these institutions, which will play key roles in manufacturing, testing, and distributing a vaccine.
The Biden plan also promises that consumers will not be price-gouged as vaccines and treatments come to market. This part of the plan may hinge in part on the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the Trump administration is trying to overturn and Biden wants to reinvest in. According to fact-checking by CNN, “without the ACA, experts say there is no mechanism for the federal government to guarantee that Covid-19 vaccines will be covered by private insurance plans.” Nevertheless, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has maintained that it is committed to providing a free vaccine to all. Starting Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the constitutionality of the ACA.
The Trump administration also promised free vaccines for all Americans, investing around $12 billion in vaccine development, according to NPR. However, its negotiation with Congress for a relief bill that would free up money for vaccine distribution has stalled. For his plan to work, Biden will also have to push for this money when he takes office.
Ultimately, it’s up to states to figure out how to distribute a vaccine once it’s approved by the federal government. State governors have struggled to come up with their own distribution plans in the midst of the chaotic election season and changing timelines of the Trump administration, and they will likely look to Biden for help come January. It isn’t clear how the health care giant McKesson Corporation, which has been contracted by the Trump administration to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine, fits into Biden’s plan.
Though many details of Biden’s vaccine plan have yet to be ironed out, some scientists on Twitter were quick to praise it. “Just look at this plan. Pinch me,” wrote Elaine Hernandez, PhD, a medical sociologist and health demographer at the University of Indiana. “It’s literally everything that my colleagues and I would want, including my own top wish list item of a task force specifically addressing racialized and ethnic health inequities,” wrote Uché Blackstock, MD, a popular science communicator and health equity advocate. And for many others, exasperated after months of uncertainty, just having an actual plan was reason enough to celebrate.