Editorial: Trash-talking vaccine is bad move by Biden, Harris

The Detroit News

If you care more about protecting lives than politics, you're rooting for a COVID-19 vaccine to arrive at the earliest possible moment. This virus has already killed too many people, and having a shield against it will be something to celebrate.

Unless, apparently, if you're on the Democratic presidential ticket and worry that a vaccine that comes before the November election will boost the reelection of President Donald Trump.

Sen. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden's pick for vice president, started the campaign to neutralize any benefit Trump might receive from an inoculation that's approved before Election Day in November. When asked by an interviewer whether she'd take take a COVID-19 vaccine, she expressed doubt, saying she "didn't trust Donald Trump."

The talking point was picked up by Biden, who, responded to the same question by saying he expected "transparency" from the Trump administration on the approval of a vaccine.

The comments are not only politically motivated, they're dangerous.

Americans are lax as it is in taking advantage of vaccines. Just 37% of adults were inoculated for influenza, also a killer disease, in the 2017-18 season.

And despite the devastation of COVID-19 over the past six months, just 65% of Americans say they would get an FDA-approve vaccine for the virus if it were available today.

That's not a high enough number to vanquish the virus and allow the nation to return to normal.

In this Aug. 12, 2020, file photo Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., arrive to speak at a news conference at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del.

Americans will need to be encouraged to participate in mass inoculations, not scared away by opportunistic politicians.

Biden, Harris and other Democrats who have picked up this talking point risk sowing doubt about the safety of vaccinations, and are building a false narrative that Trump could somehow rush a defective vaccine into circulation to aid his reelection.

Nine drug companies working on a vaccine were prompted by the Democratic fear-mongering to release a statement Tuesday that they would not deliver a vaccine for public use until it is tested and proved safe.

Hopefully, that still may be within weeks. Clinical trials are progressing at remarkable speed, and the Centers for Disease Control has advised health systems to prepare to begin receiving vaccine doses by the end of October.

It is perhaps too much to hope for that a vaccine against the worst killer of this generation might avoid the bitter, self-serving politics of the moment. 

Those who would be our leaders should do or say nothing to erode trust in the process of bringing a life-saving vaccine to widespread application.

Rather than trash-talking what would truly be a miracle, considering how long it normally takes to develop a vaccine, Biden and Harris should be offering up plans for broadly and rapidly inoculating Americans while reassuring them that it's the right thing to do.

It will make their job of protecting Americans much easier if they are elected.