The vaccine for novel coronavirus is still a dream, too good to be true in the near future. The non-existent essential health commodity is being dragged into politics wildly by two highly popular politicians, the best friends, Mr. Donald Trump (President of the United States), and Mr. Narendra Modi (Prime Minister of India).
Both these parties have been banking upon votes and support from the masses by guaranteeing a vaccine to cure the COVID-19. It is nothing more than directly attacking the quintessential needs of desperate citizens to achieve political gains. How can somebody even propose to provide something that does not exist? And which may not exist in the near future or ever in the future? Who knows.
The political turmoil in India:
Bihar elections are at the doorstep as the state will start conducting three-phase Assembly polls from October 28. The Bharatiya Janata Party in its manifesto, presented by honorable union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has promised to provide free coronavirus vaccination to the people of the state if they vote for their candidate. While releasing the manifesto she said: “When we reach the stage where scientists give clearance for large-scale production of the vaccine, we will make it available to the people of Bihar free of cost.”
But wait, does that mean if I am a citizen of Bihar and I do not vote for BJP, I will not get access to a free vaccination for the disease?
The same dilemma has given birth to several debates in the state with parties lashing at each-others’ failures. When BJP promised free vaccination to over 10 crore population of Bihar, the opposition parties chided their manifesto by deriding this as unrealistic, foolish, and politically driven.
Following the footsteps of Narendra Modi led the party BJP, the AIADMK government, one of the most hardcore supporters of BJP, offered to administer the provision of free vaccine to all in its state, Tamil Nadu. The state has its elections scheduled in the month of May. At Pudukottai, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami also guaranteed that the State government will bear the entire expenses of distributing the vaccine to a population of 7.25 crore.
On the contrary, the Health Ministry had earlier promised the States that it would procure vaccines for all and undertake the responsibility of distributing them. The ministry reassured the states that it did not want them to get into a race for the antidote.
The Coronavirus vaccine and US Elections 2020:
And this is not it. The vaccine is having international political ramifications, too. Researchers and scientists working on developing a vaccine in the United States have repeatedly told President Donald Trump that the vaccine won’t be ready until the end of the year, at the earliest.
But this is not what Mr. Donald Trump wants voters to believe.
In the latest campaign ad seeking support for Trump, a voiceover claims, “In the race for a vaccine, the finish line is approaching”. While this sentence is being blurted out a footage of clear medicine bottles scrolls past with fake labels of “COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine” written all over them.
And this is literally just one out of a hundred. Trump has made similar claims and promises during his 20-minute address in front of reporters at the White House. In the campaign-speech, he repeatedly attacked the former Vice President for his incapacities and promised to deliver a vaccine for coronavirus before Election Day. As ambiguous and tenebrous this statement is, it clearly and openly acknowledges the political shaping of the government’s vaccine timeline. To quote Trump, “We’ll have a vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I’m talking about”. The “special date” he referred to is Nov. 3, the election date.
Trump making impossible and unpredictable promises during the election campaigns is not something new. His rosy comments and positive outlook towards the vaccines come as a challenging medical endeavor as creating a vaccine in such haste is much of a déjà vu. Earlier also, Trump has made unachievable promises to his countrymen including withdrawing of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and completing the 500 miles of a border wall between the United States and Mexico. All this has helped him in the previous elections and may or may not help in the coming ones.
Trump’s vaccine claims are not a recent calamity. Interestingly, he has talked about creating a vaccine even before the COVID-19 testing kits were widely available. He probably presented the idea of the creation of the vaccine as a silver bullet in his administration’s response to the pandemic.
Apart from the opposition (obviously), Trump has also received chiding and disagreement from his inner circle about how loudly to tout the push for a vaccine. All of this he has ignored and has incessantly pressurized pharma companies and health agencies to accelerate their trials and approval processes. Statements indicating such strategy have been made in both, public and private.
On as early as Feb. 26, when there were only 15 reported positive cases in the country, the president made an announcement saying that the administration is rapidly working on developing a vaccine and that is coming along well. Needless to say, this claim had no official data or proofs. He has continuously and desperately attacked the medical teams to make his predictions, and whims and fancies come true.
So, are they both lying?
Well, isn’t that pretty obvious? If we deviate a little towards the practical course of creating a vaccine from an optimistic and positive course, we discover that there is an extremely high possibility of vaccine creation taking longer than the claims made by these politicians or even years. After all, medical research is extremely complicated and time-consuming.
Take the example of HIV; It’s been more than three decades that scientists have been working on it and have still not been able to deliver an effective HIV vaccine. By dragging medical research into politics, these politicians are just falling into a trap to make so many public promises to deliver a vaccine quickly when they themselves have little control over whether one will work.