Several GOP representatives who are also doctors pushed back on criticism of Operation Warp Speed (OPS), a multi-agency wide effort to develop and deliver a coronavirus vaccine, and urged Americans to trust the process.
OPS is a public–private partnership that relies on federal research dollars to supplement and accelerate private companies’ vaccine-development efforts.
President Donald Trump has pledged to have a vaccine ready for distribution to essential operations like schools and residential-care facilities before the Nov. 3 election.
The project’s progress has been monumental, but partisan critics of the president have expressed concern that the vaccine is being developed too quickly, and will therefore be less trustworthy.
Rep. Larry Buschon, R-Ind., who was a practicing cardiothoracic surgeon before he ran for Congress, said that these concerns are understandable, but unnecessary.
“COVID-19 vaccine candidates are going through every normal phase of research and safety review,” he said.
Due to the “catastrophic” effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on our lives, Trump issued emergency orders to cut back on much of the bureaucratic red-tape that ordinarily would slow progress in the vaccine’s development
Thus vaccine candidates are allowed to move through the approval process at a quicker pace, but any vaccine candidate that does not meet the necessary safety standards won’t be allowed to move forward,” said Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas.
The Republicans then addressed another concern: that the coronavirus vaccine will be a mandatory requirement.
“I know there are some concerned that this vaccine will be mandatory, but this simply is not true,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio. “We do not have federally mandatory vaccinations, and this one will be no different.”
For those who do want the vaccine, millions of doses should be available the day the Food and Drug Administration gives it the all-clear, the representatives explained.
Distributing the vaccines could take months, but Operation Warp Speed has been working on a distribution system that will work best for everyone, according to Buschon.
The first step will involve prioritizing those most at-risk for experiencing serious symptoms or dying from the virus, which has disproportionately impacted elder citizens and those with underlying health conditions like obesity, asthma and diabetes.
This step also would include critical personnel who interact with at-risk populations, such as health care workers, long-term care providers, staff of senior living facilities.
“Securing vaccines for these frontline patients and workers will greatly reduce the threat COVID-19 poses to our society,” the congressmen wrote in an op-ed for Fox News.
“Once we have vaccinated these individuals, doses should be made available for lower-risk groups,” they said. “A risk-based, voluntary, and science-backed strategy for administering any successful vaccine is critically important to this effort.”
Buschon and the other GOP doctors are trying to clear up important questions about the COVID-19 vaccine while also dispelling disinformation being spread by Democrats.
This is baseless fear-mongering, according to Republicans and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I will look at the data and I would assume—and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the case—that a vaccine would not be approved for the American public unless it was indeed both safe and effective,” Fauci told CNN on Thursday.
“If that’s the case Jim, I would not hesitate for a moment to take the vaccine myself and recommend it for my family.”
When pressed about her skepticism of a science-backed vaccine during Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., insisted that while she did not trust Trump she would take Fauci’s word if the vaccine were available prior to the election.
In fact, she said she would even cut ahead of the at-risk patients and front-line healthcare workers to claim hers.
“If the public health professionals—if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it, absolutely,” she said. “But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”