Trump's vaccine promises defy the lessons of pharmaceutical history
Every effort to develop a new medicine is like launching a ship across the ocean to hunt for riches. Over the years, we’ve improved the hulls and masts, the maps are better, the sailors more experienced. But even so, vessels get turned back or new lands are barren. And, sometimes, a squall takes down the boat and all her crew.
The Trump administration has set sail on one of the most ambitious vaccine development efforts in history. Operation Warp Speed is likely to deliver a Covid-19 inoculation in a fraction of the years it would usually take. In doing, so it could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and economies around the world.
But the administration has also offered timelines for a vaccine that fly in the face of almost every experience in pharmaceutical history. On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump said a shot could be ready in three or four weeks. Then, on Wednesday, Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services and one of the senior leaders of the Warp Speed program, said every American could be vaccinated by the end of March.
Mango said that there are enough doses in production and that trials are moving at a speed so that “the combination of those two will permit us to vaccinate every American before the end of first quarter 2021." A few hours later, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that “we do believe that it will be widely ...
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