Trump Administration Tells States to Prepare for November Vaccine Release, Biden Campaign Raises Concerns Over Political Motivations

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Photo By Polina Tankilevitch

Three vaccines have entered phase three testing in the United States

By Hannah Ashtari, Managing Editor

According to documents obtained by the New York Times, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has instructed city and state officials to be ready to potentially distribute a coronavirus vaccine as early as Sunday, Nov. 1, two days before the U.S. presidential election.  

The documents detail the scenarios for distribution, as well as details on who should be vaccinated first, such as healthcare and essential workers, and long-term care facility residents and staff. They also ask that states be prepared to waive licensing and permit requirements that could slow the process. The documents state that the instructions are speculative and do not necessarily mean a vaccine will be available by that time. 

“These scenarios are designed to support jurisdictional , federal, and partner planning, but they are still considered hypothetical,” the CDC said.

Many have questioned the timing of this announcement, wondering if it is an attempt at boosting President Donald Trump’s image as the election race narrows. A survey conducted by STAT News and the Harris Poll found that 78 percent of Americans worry the COVID-19 vaccine approval process is being driven more by politics than science. Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris spoke to CNN about the issue in an interview, saying that President Trump’s word would not be enough in her eyes to ensure the safety of the vaccine.  

“He’s looking at an election coming up, in less than 60 days, and he’s gasping for whatever he can get to pretend he has been a leader on this issue when he has not,”  Ms. Harris said. “I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump, and it has to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about. I will not take his word for it.” 

The World Health Organization (WHO) also voiced doubt about distributing a vaccine that would not be completely finished with stage phase development, saying that moving too quickly might lead to people developing adverse effects vaccine makers were unaware of. However, the White House pushed back against these claims as well as additional concern from the public, denying any political motive related to the vaccine distribution timeline. 

“Any vaccine that comes out is going to meet FDA’s gold standards for authorization or licensure. The president’s made that clear, I’ve made that clear, the FDA commissioner has made that clear,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on CBS This Morning. “We are literally in phase-three clinical trials on three vaccines, months from the initial development of those vaccines. If we get a vaccine, we need to be ready to distribute that.”

Both Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, and CDC Director Robert Redfield have stated that there is a slight possibility the vaccine may arrive earlier than expected due to positive results in clinical trials. Mr. Redfield emphasized that the directions given to states were merely to ensure preparation.

“Right now I will say we’re preparing earnestly for what I anticipate will be reality … that there’ll be one or more vaccines available for us in November, December — and we have to figure out how to make sure they’re distributed in a fair and equitable way across the country,” Mr. Redfield said during an interview with Yahoo Finance.

Currently, three pharmaceutical companies have vaccines in phase three of vaccine development. Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca all have clinical testing trials of the vaccine ongoing. On Aug. 31, AstraZeneca released its own statement committing to “put patients first.”

“At the heart of AstraZeneca’s core values is to ‘follow the science’ and adhere to the highest scientific and clinical standards, making the safety and efficacy of the vaccine of paramount importance. The company’s submissions for market authorization will meet the stringent requirements established by regulators everywhere around the world,” the company said. 

Amid the concerns about the vaccine’s safety, nine major pharmaceutical companies have also released a joint statement to reassure those with concerns that they will not deploy the vaccine until it is completely safe. The CEOs of AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer, and Sanofi signed a pledge to submit only for approval a vaccine that has completely undergone phase three development, despite the CDC’s apparent plans. 

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