Will there be a vaccine against coronavirus? Eventually, we pray. But in this age of unreason, undue attention is already being paid to those who may refuse protection against this often-fatal disease.
We hear paranoid talk of shadowy government figures coming to your home to "force-vax you." Never mind that. When a credible vaccine finally comes out, the crush for it will be immense. The anti-vaxxers could helpfully shorten the lines by getting out of the way of those who want it.
Hostility against vaccinations fits no neat political category. Vaccine hesitancy, the polite term, has grown on the left and the right and on whatever planet Rand Paul lives on. Some reflexively reject anything anyone in the government wants them to do. What these groups tend to have in common is a childlike acceptance of quackery infecting the internet.
The one valid concern is that the vaccine would be phony. President Donald Trump does need something to balance the impression of his total incompetence managing this pandemic. A magic shot to make it all go away would be his great hope for reversing a collapse in public support.
And so, though Trump has played vaccine skeptic in the past, he's now doing the hard sell on there being a vaccine by the end of the year. Many Americans who stay carefully up to date on their shots fear that Trump will push a vaccine that doesn't work and may cause harm, to boost his dwindling chances of reelection.
Hyping a fake cure would be entirely in Trump's character. Recall his peddling of hydroxychloroquine as a means to prevent COVID-19. The Federal Drug Administration says that hydroxychloroquine, helpful for treating malaria, is useless against the coronavirus. And it can cause dangerous side effects, among them serious heart problems.
Trump went so far as to say he personally took it. I was not alone in dismissing that claim as a mere distraction from some negative news story. I have full faith in Trump's science-based approach where his own health is concerned.
No, I will not believe there's an effective vaccine because Trump announces it. Whom do I believe? I believe Dr. Anthony Fauci. When America's top infectious disease expert gives the green light, I roll up my sleeve.
Those who trust Trump and not Fauci can do so at their own risk. Trump world seems intent on undermining public confidence in Fauci for the dual sins of delivering bad news on the virus and winning the public's respect.
There was that nutty piece in USA Today by Peter Navarro, Trump's trade adviser, declaring that Fauci was "wrong about everything I have interacted with him on." Navarro also put in a plug for hydroxychloroquine. "Bizarre" was Fauci's own understated term for it.
Self-humiliation has become a common means to curry favor with a displeased Trump. (Ask Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions.)
Navarro made the mistake of writing a memo in January that warned of the health disaster coming our way. "The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil," it read.
Navarro's timely memo created a great inconvenience for the White House by calling for action the president didn't feel like taking. (Trump says he never read it.) What better way to do penance than making a fool of himself beating the dead horse of hydroxychloroquine?
This talk about Americans' refusing to take a reliable vaccine, meanwhile, is mostly talk. We're seeing three-hour lineups of cars in Texas, California, and Virginia just to reach a test for the coronavirus. Imagine the waits if there's actually a vaccine to prevent it.
So here's a plea to the anti-vaxxers who won't listen to our reputable medical experts: Do us all a favor and let the rest of us go first.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
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