The scientific community responded brilliantly at the outset of the COVID pandemic, sequencing the virus and devising vaccines within the first few weeks of the outbreak. But the FDA managed to snatch catastrophe from the jaws of victory by insisting that vaccines be subjected to six months of safety tests and then waiting another six months to accumulate statistical proof that unvaccinated control groups were getting sick and dying at faster rates than vaccinated test groups. There is a case to be made for safety testing, which can be done quickly — allergic reactions to vaccines will show up within weeks. But it is murderous absurdity to block use of a vaccine during a pandemic in order to obtain better statistics on its effectiveness. This practice must be ended now and never allowed to happen again.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not any safer or more effective today than they were last July, when FDA safety testing was completed. The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines won’t be any safer or more effective weeks or months from now, after several hundred thousand more deaths, when the FDA finally authorizes their use. The only effect of the FDA’s delay has been to cost countless Americans their lives. The fact that the FDA was just following the standard regulatory procedures is not an excuse; it is proof that the standard regulatory procedures need to change, and now, both so the current crisis can be adequately dealt with and establish how the next one will be dealt with ahead of time.