When will the nightmare of America’s COVID shutdowns end? Many think the country won’t get back to normal until there is a COVID vaccine. My organization polls Minnesotans each quarter; just last week, we asked some questions about COVID. One was: “Which of the following comes closest to how you see the future of COVID-19 in our lives? Or in other words, when do you think COVID-19 will no longer be as big of an issue?” A considerable number, 27%, saw the release of a vaccine as the end of COVID:
* 38% — IT WILL CONTINUE TO BE AN ISSUE NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND, EVEN AFTER A VACCINE IS DEVELOPED
* 27% — IT WILL GO AWAY ONLY WHEN A VACCINE IS DEVELOPED
* 20% — IT WILL GO AWAY AFTER ELECTION DAY
* 8% — IT WILL GO AWAY ONLY AFTER MOST OF THE POPULATION HAS CONTRACTED IT
* 7% — DON’T KNOW
President Trump has touted “Operation Warp Speed,” a federal effort to develop, test, and bring to market a COVID vaccine much faster than has ever happened before. The FDA has even suggested that it might approve such a vaccine on an emergency basis without going through the usual Phase 3 clinical trials. Dr. Alex Berezow denounced this idea in an article on the web site of the American Council on Science and Health titled “FDA’s Reckless Gamble: Emergency Use Of COVID-19 Vaccine Prior To Phase 3 Clinical Trial Completion Is Nuts.”
I interviewed Dr. Berezow on the Dan Proft Show yesterday. The audio of that interview is embedded below. Berezow makes, in my view, a strong case against taking any short cuts in getting an anti-COVID vaccine to market. Phase 3 trials, involving large numbers of subjects so that relatively rare adverse reactions can be brought to light, are, in his view, essential. That is hard to dispute. He also explains why they take so long.
But there is more to the vaccine story. In this interview, we discuss the fact that it is by no means certain that an effective COVID vaccine can be found. In fact, there has never been a successful vaccine against any coronavirus (e.g., the common cold). Further, we already have an anti-vaxxer movement in the U.S., and both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have reinforced anti-vaxxer sentiment by saying they may not get any vaccine developed under the Trump administration. Poll data suggest that many Americans will adopt a “wait and see”–or, one could say, a “you go first”–attitude toward any COVID vaccine. To the extent Americans don’t choose to get the vaccine, it can’t help.
Here is the interview:
The bottom line, in my view, is that a vaccine may or may not be proved effective someday, but it is more important, for now, to focus on treatments that can forestall the catastrophic immune reactions that can actually cause death in a COVID patient. Meanwhile, I think our governments should lift lockdowns and get all of us back to normal. Quite a few people will catch COVID, and a few of those will also die. Of those who die after catching COVID, an unknown percentage will actually die on account of COVID. This is nothing new in human history: diseases can kill people. Fortunately, this particular virus kills very few who are not already on, or close to, their death beds. We should be grateful for that, and should get our lives back to normal. Now.