Will a COVID-19 vaccine be the « October surprise » that saves Trump’s re-election campaign?

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President Donald Trump’s painfully inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic has been crushing him in recent election polls: one poll after another has shown him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee — some of them by double digits. But Politico reporter Adam Cancryn, in an article published on July 22, wonders if perhaps there will be enough progress on a COVID-19 vaccine for Trump to enjoy an « October surprise » that saves his reelection campaign and helps him win a second term.

The World Health Organization’s Mike Ryan has said that although « good progress » is being made, it will probably be early 2021 before COVID-19 vaccines start to become available. And Cancryn notes that « Trump’s bet that a proven-effective coronavirus vaccine will be the October surprise to catapult him into a second term is facing increasingly long odds. » However, the Politico journalist notes, « that doesn’t mean he won’t find just enough reason to declare victory anyway. »

Cancryn explains, « While the race to find an effective vaccine for COVID-19 has crucial implications for nations around the world, it also carries political ramifications in the United States — with Trump banking heavily on finding a vaccine to quell both the pandemic and mounting unhappiness over his handling of the coronavirus response. Buoyed by a series of encouraging early trial results, the (Trump) Administration is laying the groundwork for a high-profile rollout of initial coronavirus vaccines in as little as three months. It’s a best-case timetable that also tracks with the final weeks before the November 3 election. »

According to Cancryn, the Trump White House’s Operation Warped Speed « has poured billions of dollars into developing a vaccine in record time, funding several efforts in parallel and buying up doses of the experimental shots in a wager that one will ultimately pay off. »

Cancryn reports that « several top vaccine experts » told Politico it could « take well into 2021 to produce and distribute the hundreds of millions of shots needed to inoculate the entire country. » However, the reporter wonders if early clinical trials could give Trump « the opportunity to seize on them as a potential game-changer. »

« While the Trump Administration has insisted that it won’t cut corners on safety — a vow the vaccine developers have taken as well — it’s left the door open to short-circuiting the process before those trials are complete, » Cancryn reports. « The (Food and Drug Administration) guidelines indicate the Administration could issue emergency authorizations as soon as it’s convinced a vaccine is safe and effective, clearing it for distribution to the public. »

John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, is among the medical experts who is worried that a COVID-19 vaccine will be rushed rather than adequately tested.

Moore told Politico, « That’s the concern — not that Trump might boost his poll ratings by a couple percent, but that we could make a catastrophic mistake. Anything in October is going to be politicized, and the last thing this pandemic needs is more politicization. »

Barry Bloom, an infectious disease expert at Harvard University, told Politico, « There is clearly a political goal for the president to say, ‘I’ve delivered a vaccine.’ But we will not know in three months, or six months — by January — how long the antibodies last. »

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News – Will a COVID-19 vaccine be the « October surprise » that saves Trump’s re-election campaign?

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