Like it or not, the shots from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson are the Trump vaccines.
Vaccines usually take up to 10 years to get developed and approved. That’s mostly because of funding and regulatory issues. But in “Operation Warp Speed,” the Trump administration gave COVID vaccine researchers and producers all the money they needed and adjusted regulations so as to allow required tests to be performed simultaneously, rather than one after the other. Despite the rush job, the traditional health and effectiveness studies were reportedly all carried out. The program was announced on April 29, 2020 and the first vaccines were approved for use on December 20, 2020, an astonishing achievement that surely has saved untold numbers of lives.
Though Democrats vilified Donald Trump for his handling of the COVID pandemic–to be sure, he desperately wanted it to be over, pushing over-optimistic projections and untested treatments–he and his administration deserve credit, along with the researchers they bankrolled, for today’s COVID vaccines and for the fact that we are not still waiting for them until 2030. And he is starting to get that credit. Though Joe Biden slanderously accused Trump in a debate of being responsible for the nation’s COVID deaths, he has recently acknowledged the role of the previous administration in developing the vaccines. (See When Does Trump Get His Apology?)
To be sure, though, the vaccines have also proven controversial. Though the leading vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are not made using stem cells of aborted fetuses–as some other of the vaccines are–these mRNA shots were tested using such stem cells, and, though pro-life organizations including the Vatican said the shots themselves were not morally problematic, though the testing was, many pro-lifers want nothing to do with them. Other Americans believe the COVID pandemic is overstated and are skeptical about government policies in general. Others are leery about injecting anything into their bodies on principle. Whatever the reason, though many Black Democrats and some progressive environmentalists also oppose the vaccination, most of the anti-vaccination sentiment comes from people who are fervent supporters of Donald Trump.
Trump, though, has become vocal in touting his administration’s achievement and in calling on his supporters to get vaccinated. But this puts him at odds with a significant proportion of his otherwise fiercely loyal base. And when faced with a choice between Trump or their anti-vax convictions, they are turning against Trump.
Trump has been saying that he opposes Biden’s vaccine mandates, but he has been urging his fans to get the shots. At a rally of his supporters in an arena in Dallas, Trump said that he got his booster shot, whereupon he was booed! By people attending a Trump rally!
The reaction from some elements on conservative talk radio, where Trump is almost always defended and promoted, was even harsher. Alex Jones issued an “an emergency Christmas Day warning to President Trump”:
You are either completely ignorant about the so-called vaccine gene therapy you helped ram through with Operation Warp Speed, or you are the most evil man who has ever lived to push this toxic poison on the public and to attack your constituents when they simply try to save their lives and the lives of others.
A right-winger saying that Trump might be “the most evil man who has ever lived”? Another talk show host, Allyn Root, said that Trump needs “an intervention.”
The question looming over the Republican party is whether Trump will run for president in 2024 and will retain his influence over conservative voters until then. His political clout comes from the loyalty of his base, but if a big segment of his base turns against him, I’d say his influence and his political career will fade away.
What do you think? If you supported Trump, are you proud or ashamed of Operation Warp Speed? If you are in the conservative anti-vaccination camp, have you turned against Trump? Or do you still support him because of other issues? Do you think the number of anti-vaxxers who have turned against Trump is small or are they representative of the entire movement? If you opposed Trump and are pro-vaccine, are you ready to give him at least some credit for the vaccines? Or do you agree with the right-wing talk radio host who thinks he may be “the most evil man who ever lived”?
Image: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr, Public Domain