May 15. Would You Buy a Warped Vaccine From This Man?

Update:  A poll on CNN asked if a vaccine was ready now, would you take it?  Unfortunately, only 66% said yes, and 33% said no.  I didn’t mean the title to suggest at all the position of an anti-vaxer.  It’s just that Trump is doing everything to cause us to lose trust in any of his projects.  It is nice to have an expert like Moncef Slaoui, Ph. D., heading Operation Warp Speed, but you couldn’t find somebody with more conflicts of interest: working on one particular vaccine, on several pharmaceutical boards of directors, with $10 million investment in one company, and being a pharmaceutical venture capitalist.  Since he is not in any given executive department, does the Senate even have to vote on his appointment?  Is he subject to any oversight?  Does the House have any oversight of his budget?

“There’s No Ego In This”, an odd statement by Trump.

Which means “America First” is canceled?

About accuracy, Trump defended his five-minute Abbot speed test use in the White House, saying it can also be given twice.  The test may give false negatives 1/3 or 1/2 of the time.  Not a good comparison when pondering rushed testing of a vaccine.

I was waiting for the vaccine to be distributed, and then for Trump to cast shade on it.  I don’t have to wait any longer, he already said “if you want to take it”, thus already backing the the anti-vaxers.  (Why does my autocorrect keep substituting vaxer with Vader?). With the rapidly spreading Coronavirus, and the spreadability from asymptomatic and presymptomatic infected, you don’t have herd immunity until everybody is vaccinated.  Arthur Caplan just repeated my thought on CNN.  He is the Head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU.

Trump also backed the Federalist right wingers, who say that only 1% will die, by saying that it will only kill a tiny fraction, and that most don’’t get seriously infected.  They are using a factor that only 1/7th of those infected get symptoms requiring testing and hospitalization.  Then of those testing positive, about 7% die in the US.  That gives a 1% death rate for those infected.  

The problem with that is that there are 1.43 million tested positives in the US, so maybe 7 times as many or 10 million cases, and we have lost 86,000.  But if nobody is vaccinated in time, the US population is 320 million, or 32 times as many potential cases.  That would mean 2.8 million deaths.  Using their 1% figure would be 3.2 million deaths.  That is a vast tragedy, essentially half of the Holocaust.  But it would be even much worse.  The whole reason for the two month’s lockdown was to flatten the curve.  If you increase the load by a factor of 32, only 3% of those who need hospitalization would get it.  So the entire 4% of those infected who need hospitalization would be lost.  That increases the death toll to 13 million.  That is twice the Holocaust.

If all people would wear masks, as they do in Asian countries, and obeyed the six foot social distancing (I prefer 10 feet when it is obtainable in many circumstances, and limited time of contact), and stayed home when sick, and we had more testing, we just might make the reopening work.  Trump no longer cares, even to flattening the curve.  He wants all schools reopening, even though it is unworkable.

Remember, by the time you see deaths in 14 days after reopening, the number of cases has already taken off exponentially.

After bragging about on the order of a 100 possible US vaccination types and 500 worldwide, Trump bragged about Operation Warp Speed having already narrowed down to fourteen, and would soon be cutting it down further.  No mention is ever made of which blue ribbon committee and what criteria and data they used in making their choices.  Ergo, politics and cronyism?  Note, that yesterday, Trump was still backing hydroxychloroquine, again casting doubt for those wondering about the safety of a Warp Speed vaccine.

The Trump administration finally released the 60 some page CDC guidance, but shrunk to a five chart report, after 33 days.  Any high school student could have made up those charts in an evening.

I can see baseball returning if they sanitize the baseball before every pitch.  This will lead to a new spitball-like pitch, called the “sanitizer”.  But I haven’t worked out baserunning with six feet of separation.

In sports, one doesn’t want ancient Colosseum spectacles that resemble Spartacus and the Gladiators.   College and Professional athletes are the best athletes, with incredibly developed lung capacities.  Since the Coronavirus can give year long or permanent damage to lungs and other organs, it would be career ending for these athletes.  We don’t want to force them into competitions where this could happen, even if Trump wants to quickly restore such spectacles.

The Writer’s comments.  As an ex-physicist, I have to note the odd title of Trump’’s Operation Warp Speed.  Despite the 54 years since Star Trek created the fictional Warp Drive, no inspired physicist has yet figured out how to do it, or even if it is possible.  Not the greatest title for a seven month’s vaccine development project.  The title of this article comes from an old Nixon opposition ad:  Would You Buy a Used Car From This Man?

And so it goes, in the era of Trump versus the Coronavirus.  

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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