Post #814: COVID-19 vaccines. The Chinese get it, the Russians get it. We don’t get it.

Posted on September 16, 2020

In Post #777 (and earlier), I talked about why the Russian strategy of early use of their vaccine made good sense.  And now, it turns out that the Chinese are doing the same thing as the Russians.  They just didn’t brag about it, the way the Russians did.  I guess I am unsurprised that the Chinese are doing the rational thing here.

In both cases, they are taking vaccines that have passed safety trials, but have not yet completed trials showing whether or not they work, and they are using them right now, for high-risk populations such as health care workers.

This is so rational, and so logical.  And yet, apparently so beyond the grasp of our government.  Either our elected leaders or our professional bureaucracy.

Here’s the logic:  Heads I win, tails I don’t lose.  If the vaccines is effective, you’ve gotten a head-start on stopping the pandemic in your country.  If the vaccines is ineffective, you’ve given people a placebo.

As long as those who have been vaccinated will continue with all the existing precautions, you lose nothing by vaccinating them now.  And then letting them know, a few months from now, how effective that vaccine is supposed to be.

Presumably, by focusing on health care workers, you’re looking at a population that’s smart enough to understand that.  Smart enough to understand that the shot they’ve been given may or may not work.  So they can’t let down the guard, just yet.

And, as with Putin famously saying that his own daughter had been vaccinated, the Chinese have set up a public information campaign focusing on top private-sector and government officials who have been vaccinated.  Starting with the CEOs of the two companies making those two vaccines, along with their chiefs of military research and biosafety.  Again, as with Russia, to emphasize the safety of the vaccine.

Here in the U.S.A.?  Who knows what our strategy is, or whether we have one.  It seems to shift depending on which way the wind is blowing (Post #789).  One day, some official announces that we definitely will have a vaccine released on (Sunday!) November 1.  Then next day, somebody says, nope, we won’t release them until they’ve finished the trials.  Not to be outdone, the President pipes up and says we’ll have it in October.  Then some other high poo-bah says, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t show up until next year.  The all of our drug companies jointly announce they won’t release any until they’ve finished the Phase III efficacy trials.

And on and on and on.  Who’s running this clown show?  I’m pretty sure the answer is, nobody.

How will the U.S.A. have a public campaign to stress the safety and necessity of vaccination, when the President is strongly aligned with the “anti-vaxxers”?  Is the President going to pull a Putin and announce that his daughter was vaccinated?  (And would anyone believe him if he did?)  Seems about as likely as seeing him wear a mask at what passes for a press conference these days.

Here’s my anti-Pangloss prediction:  I bet we’re going to adopt the worst of the Sino-Russian and Western approaches.  I bet we are going to start using our vaccines before effectiveness has been demonstrated.  But instead of doing that now, we’ll start doing that just prior to the election (Post #780).  Thus wasting three or so months when those vaccines could have been protecting US health care workers and other high-risk occupations.  So that the timing is optimal from the standpoint of politics.

It is just barely possible that a vaccine or two will have been proven effective prior to the election.  You can see the arithmetic on that in Post #800.  So maybe we’ll have a legit release of a vaccine of demonstrated effectiveness, with the politically-imposed deadline.  But the odds of that are slim.  And with nobody in charge, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen.

I realize this reads like a rant, but I’m really tired of being on Team Stupid.