Will You Trust a New COVID Vaccine?
There’s a false assumption that a COVID vaccine is the cure to our problems. But, wait. Not so fast. There’s another virus out there called misinformation.
There’s growing concern that *if* and *when* a vaccine becomes available, it might not be as effective as we’re inclined to think.
What if a quarter of the population refuses to get vaccinated? Think that’s unrealistic? Read on.
A few points for discussion:
1. Trump’s recent pronouncements that he’s confident a new vaccine will be available “by the end of this year” are preposterous. Science (infections) doesn’t bow to political pressures nor is it concerned about the outcome of an election. The correct response to the question about a vaccine timeline from a non-scientific source and voice of authority (the President) should be, “it will be ready when we’re convinced it’s effective and it’s safe.” THAT should be the timeline.
2. Being wary of a new COVID vaccine isn’t the same as being anti-VAX, though there’s probably some crossover within this otherwise disparate demographic. Many of us who are strong *pro-vax* also have (legitimate) concerns about a new drug that might be cutting corners during the research and trial phases.
3. I don’t trust anything that comes from this Administration. Not a word. Trump knows his re-election chances likely hinge on finding a “cure,” so all the stops have been pulled out on normal protocols. While a compelling case can be made that some short cuts do need to be made to get a vaccine out, based on the Trump Administration’s appalling track record of deflection, disastrous predictions, absurd statements, and misplaced priorities, I simply don’t trust the safety of a drug that’s been rushed to market.
4. Vaccine Origins: I am divided on the factor of the source of the prospective vaccine discovery. I would feel somewhat safer if the vaccine came from labs in Europe, where public/private cooperation has been in place for decades and there’s a long history of success. I am uncertain about the safety of a vaccine if it were discovered in China (certainly a possibility). China’s research capabilities rival our own and we better prepare ourselves for the possibility we could be forced to make some decisions. I’m also wary of a vaccine created by the US pharmaceutical industry, which is under enormous pressure from government (overseeing and financing) and is financially incentivized to cut corners to be first to get a drug to market to shaft the competition. I’d be very concerned if any pharma company that releases a vaccine is also given legal indemnification against damages (which I think is very possible).
5. The biggest fear as I understand it (and I am admittedly a layperson with no scientific knowledge) is a possible repeat of the Thalidomide disaster, when 60 years ago thousands of women mostly in the UK took a drug which later resulted in widespread birth defects. That might be an overreaction and fearmongering. But there is some chance that the recklessness of an untested medication rushed to market under intense political pressures could be problematic later on.
Curious to know the public sentiment on this question, I posted a poll on Twitter yesterday, which produced some interesting results. By about a 3:1 margin, most respondents stated they would agree to a vaccine. What this means is — 25 percent of the population says they will not get the vaccine (see my opening comments).
Note that I tinkered with this question just a bit by asking, what if the vaccine were released “this fall.” One presumes that if any vaccine were released under normal trial and testing the trust factor would be much higher.