That forecast may prove unduly pessimistic: Good Judgment, a respected forecasting firm, places odds of a vaccine (approved and distributed to at least 25 million Americans by March 31, 2021), at 46%. (On Friday, Pfizer said it would not apply for emergency authorization of its vaccine before mid-November.)

Too fast? Many are terrified that the Food and Drug Administration may hastily authorize injections into hundreds of millions. The FDA and drugmakers are trying to assuage such concerns with enhanced commitments to safety. Nonetheless, fears have been stoked by President Donald Trump’s infomercial-style endorsement of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 remedy, his foolhardy disdain for face masks and campaign rally boasts of a pre-election cure.

Yes, politics. But the opposing political push — the demand that new vaccines must be safe at all costs — is itself a dangerous meme, and the strange bedfellow of anti-vaxxer protesters.