Go away and hide, President Trump, because you botched the handling of COVID-19 except for one teensy thing, starting Operation Warp Speed to develop vaccines faster than history allows. Well, yes, the Pfizer Inc. pharmaceutical company right now has the leading one and pretty soon it could start protecting as many as 25 million lives. But look, Warp Speed is only providing $1.95 billion to the company for millions of doses it plans to distribute for free around the country, and therefore, you should admit guilt, hide your head in shame and take no credit for saving anyone.
It is amazing, utterly amazing that, no matter what Trump accomplishes, he hasn’t done it, at least not in the eyes of regressive progressives, pseudo-intellectuals and some supposedly fair media analysts forever putting monster masks on friendly facts. And yet, for all of his front-page flubs, he has moved decisively and with impact on the virus from early on and has perhaps done nothing more important than instituting the Warp Speed adventure in answer to a sad issue.
That issue would be that finding a vaccine to stop a killer germ can often take four, five, 10 or 15 years if one is ever found at all. Phooey, said Trump, as he and his team worked with governmental agencies, scientists, universities and eager-beaver foreign and national pharmaceutical companies to get a reputable vaccine and get it in a hurry. It was almost as if Trump transmitted his own relentless energy into the project as unneeded regulatory hindrances were removed from the scene and new, more efficient methods of checking safety and effectiveness were developed.
The pharmaceutical companies, outstanding from the beginning, still had all kinds of needs not easily acquired, and the project said here they are. The government also entered public-private partnerships in which it has spent billions funding research and production at private companies. Pfizer, working with a major, genius-gifted, German medical firm, BioNTech, said it would pay for its own production but would happily accept a couple of billion dollars as the government purchases and delivers free doses as quickly and usefully as possible.
That’s what really counts, as one expert has interestingly expressed it: the vaccination, not the vaccine. And this kind of delivery guarantee can keep a company plugging away even if things get tough. The New York Times reports that international health organizations caught on to the value of this technique long ago, and it is surely a good idea to copy good ideas. Moderna, an American firm that did get Warp Speed production funding, is announcing success, too, and some say the combined dosage could be enough to save the world.
Naturally enough, Trump’s Twitter-encouraged enemies in politics, on the internet, in publications, behind bushes and starring in Hollywood don’t want to grant him an inch even if he deserves a mile. It has erroneously been made to sound as if Pfizer has benefitted in no important way from Warp Speed, and a number are upset that deliveries are expected by the end of this year. Their argument is that the politically motivated Trump administration won’t do the checking correctly and we should all wait for Joe Biden to be in charge even if the virus is right now surging wildly and killing 1,000 and more people a week. See how much they love you.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a highly respected leader on the Trump virus task force and someone who himself has been in conflict with the president, sounds as optimistic as optimistic gets and is positive about 2021. Not everything is going to happen at once, but he says the vaccine “is going to have a major impact on everything we do with respect to COVID.”
There are many people deserving our gratitude, and the president is one of them, no matter how hard that is to believe.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at [email protected]
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