President-elect Biden intends to release nearly every available dose of Wuhan coronavirus vaccine to the states. This is a reversal of President Trump’s policy, which was to hold back doses of the vaccine to make sure there is enough for people who receive a first shot to get a second one within the recommended period (21 days or 28 days, depending on the vaccine in question).
Is this a good idea? I don’t know. I doubt that anyone knows.
I do believe strongly that there is a moral obligation to provide a second dose of the vaccine within the recommended time period to people who have already received the first dose. Those who chose to get the first shot did so with the understanding that they would get the second within a set number of days — the number that corresponds to what the manufacturers learned about how to maximize the vaccines’ efficacy. It would be unethical to deny them that shot due to a change in policy.
As to people who haven’t yet received the first shot, the picture is murky. We don’t know the length of the delays in second shots the Biden policy will cause. Biden’s advisers apparently believe the delays will be minimal to non-existent because of the manufacturers’ ability (aided by the federal government) to ramp up production. But they may be wrong.
We also don’t know the extent to which delaying the second shot beyond the recommended date reduces the efficacy the vaccine. It seems clear that any appreciable delay reduces the efficacy to some degree. But by how much, we don’t know.
I want to make two more points regarding Team Biden’s reversal of Trump’s policy. First, the policy shift stems from frustration with the pace at which Americans are being vaccinated. The frustration is understandable.
However, the reason for the slow pace isn’t the Trump administration’s withholding of vaccine. It’s the failure of states to use the vaccine that has been released. More than 22 million doses have been sent to the states. Less than one-third of them have been administered.
Thus, releasing more vaccine doesn’t guarantee that more doses will be administered.
Second, Biden’s approach ignores the recommendation of Anthony Fauci. (It’s possible that Fauci has changed his tune, or will. You don’t last as long as he has at the top of the bureaucracy by going against an incoming administration.)
To me, Fauci’s view doesn’t carry much weight. But the mainstream media considered it scandalous whenever President Trump went against Fauci’s advice. Disagreeing with Dr. Fauci was tantamount to ignoring the science, in the view of the mainstream media and the Democrats.
I find it telling, therefore, that Fauci’s view doesn’t appear in this Washington Post story about Biden’s rejection of the approach the doctor favors.
The Post instead contrasts Biden’s views with those of HHS Secretary Alex Azar, a member of Trump’s cabinet and therefore someone the Post’s readers can sneer at. But Fauci has been the leading spokesperson opposing the release of more vaccine.
Apparently, the Post doesn’t want to acknowledge the disconnect between Biden and Fauci. It doesn’t want my neighbors with their “thank you, Dr. Fauci” signs to know that Team Biden is at odds with their hero.