Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a former medical adviser to President George W. Bush has some advice for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris – take the coronavirus vaccine as quickly as possible. He says he would recommend that both of them be vaccinated Monday. The vaccine takes about a month before the full extent of its protection takes hold. The inauguration is 38 days away. Reiner wants the incoming leaders to be fully protected as they enter their offices.
That sounds reasonable, right? It would also be best if they were administered the shots in front of a camera, to encourage the general public to do the same when the vaccine becomes available to everyone.
The former Bush adviser insisted that, for Biden, the vaccine is a key part of his presidential protections and is ‘no different to his secret service [detail] or his armored car, or any protections surrounding the White House.’
‘This is a biological protection – and I would vaccinate him on Monday,’ Reiner added.
Reiner continued that he believed the Biden should receive the vaccine publicly, and possibly alongside first responders.
‘This will go a long way to show this is a safe vaccine,’ he said. ‘That’s really the concern, that’s where the reluctance is. People who are hesitant to take the vaccine are worried, is it safe.
And if the incoming president is taking it, then that will go a long way to assuage any concern.’
I had a thought that an interesting event to watch would be a split-screen version of Biden and Harris in Delaware taking the shot at the same time as Trump and Pence at the White House. Both men’s supporters would see that they were taking the vaccinations themselves and maybe persuade the doubters to do the same. Now that the first shipments of the vaccine are rolling out for delivery, the next hurdle is for the general public to be convinced to get the shot. Let’s face it, the vaccine has gotten as politicized as the handling of the coronavirus pandemic has in the United States.
Joe Biden was no more helpful than Kamala Harris originally when the vaccine looked to be coming to fruition soon. Biden grumbled about needing to be reassured by scientists, not just the Trump administration (specifically Trump) that no corners were cut for expediency and Kamala Harris flat-out said she would not take the vaccine during the Trump administration. So, now they have to consume a slice of humble pie and take the vaccine. They’ll be responsible for getting people to take the vaccine so when they reap what they’ve sown by deliberately undermining the safety of the vaccine, well, you know what the expression is about karma.
Biden would be eligible for the vaccine fairly quickly anyway. His age (78) and past medical history place him at the front of the line. Kamala would benefit from the push to prioritize vaccinating minorities. If these two people really want the American public to believe that the coronavirus is their top priority and they want to unify the country, let them take the shot in a fully transparent way.
On Sunday’s Face the Nation, host Margaret Brennan spoke with a panel consisting of a mix of both Trump and Biden supporters. The topic was whether or not they will take the vaccine. Of the seven participants, only two said yes, they are willing to take the vaccine. One was a white male Trump supporter and the other was a white female Biden supporter. The Biden supporter said she has a pre-existing condition – asthma. None of the black participants said yes, all of them expressed skepticism about the vaccine’s safety and over the speed at which it has become available. I mention the racial component because a major concern in the medical community is that minorities won’t agree to be vaccinated. Millions of people will likely postpone or completely opt-out of getting the vaccine. It’s not just the anti-vaxxers, either. In Texas, Houston will receive the vaccine on Monday. Medical professionals are reassuring the public that the vaccine wasn’t rushed, the process played out safely. This vaccine was the beneficiary of years of work in coronavirus development, like that of the SARS virus.
Concerns about vaccine safety, such as those expressed by Broze, appear the most common reason behind the vaccine resistance. Other reasons include ideological views that vaccines aren’t necessary because the pandemic is exaggerated; an increasingly influential anti-vaccine movement; conspiracy theories such as the claim the vaccine will contain a tracking microchip; and the African-American community’s distrust of health care authorities because of historic racism.
“It’s going to be a bumpy road,” said Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine. “Given media scrutiny and an aggressive anti-vaxxer movement, particularly in Texas, any adverse vaccine events are going to be amplified.”
Hotez has an answer to those who worry about safety concerns because the vaccine was developed in seemingly record time, concerns fed by the initiative name, Operation Warp Speed, and the perception that President Donald Trump’s desire for an October surprise might have caused corners to be cut.
The vaccine was really developed over decades, not a few months, Hotez notes.
Scientists have studied coronaviruses since the early 2000s when SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), an older cousin of COVID-19, emerged in China and spread to a number of countries, including Canada. Four years ago, a Hotez team developed a SARS vaccine he thinks likely would have provided some protection against COVID-19, the strains are so similar. Research underpinning the new genetic technology Pfizer and Moderna employed on the two vaccines goes back 30 years.
Dr. Jonathan Reiner is no fan of President Trump. He didn’t mention if Trump and Pence should take the vaccine right away. His concern is for the incoming administration, which probably isn’t very surprising, given today’s divided atmosphere. Reiner called for Trump to resign in September over allegations made in the book by Bob Woodward claiming Trump deliberately misled the public about the coronavirus in its early stages. In October Reiner again slammed Trump over the coronavirus.
Whatever anyone’s personal decision about taking the vaccine is, the fact that a coronavirus vaccine is now in transport to its first recipients is a historical accomplishment that cannot be denied, even by the most ardent Never Trumpers. Operation Warp Speed is Trump’s legacy.