…Claim social divisions, political conflicts will hinder anti-epidemic fight
As a deadly surge in COVID-19 cases has led to more than 283,000 deaths in the United States, media outlets in America reported on Tuesday that President Donald Trump was close to signing an executive order to vaccinate all Americans against the coronavirus.
However, Chinese experts are warning that “vaccination cannot save the US”, as it is unrealistic to inject 60-70 per cent of the population in a short period of time to generate herd immunity, given the country’s social divisions, partisan conflicts and loose anti-epidemic measures.
“Vaccination cannot save the US from the epidemic. It is unrealistic to inject more than 200 million people in the US in about two or three months due to the current production and distribution capability of vaccines,” said Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital.
Using vaccines to curb the epidemic is to generate herd immunity. But it works only when about 60-70 per cent of the population are injected with the vaccine – meaning more than 200 million people in the US must be vaccinated in a short period of time, Wang explained, adding that vaccine efficacy would then take another one to two weeks.
The US has been suffering from the growing coronavirus crisis in recent weeks with a surge in infections and a mounting death toll that has surpassed 2,000 fatalities a day. The country reported 175,663 confirmed cases on Monday, lifting the total to 14,954,329 with 283,743 deaths, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
Trump held a summit at the White House on Tuesday to highlight the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine he is eager to take credit for, as well as the administration’s ambitious plan to vaccinate all Americans.
The summit came two days before the review of Pfizer and BioNTech’s application for emergency authorisation of their COVID-19 vaccines, and distribution is expected to begin within 24 hours of authorisation.
However, some pharmaceutical giants showed a cool reaction to the summit. Moderna and Pfizer, the two US companies behind the vaccine candidates, told USA Today that their employees did not attend the summit.
Even if the vaccine is developed, many Americans, especially Trump’s supporters, would question the vaccine or even not receive vaccination as the US is mired in an anti-science trend, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Although the US federal government encourages people to vaccinate, whether the states will follow the plan remains uncertain as many states and their residents’ neglect continues, Li said.
Li predicted that after the vaccine is put into use, the US is not likely to provide free vaccination for all its citizens. So many people who suffer from economic pressure could refuse to vaccinate.
After Joe Biden takes office next month, the new US administration would strive for rational and scientific epidemic prevention and control work, said Li. However, Biden’s proposal is highly likely to face a boycott in some states which back the US Republican Party, leading to a complicated and tough situation in fighting COVID-19, Li noted.
Biden is likely to shape his own policy for obtaining and distributing vaccines after taking office, possibly limiting the impact of Trump’s order, CNBC reported on Monday.
CNN reported that Biden has said he has asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to be his chief medical adviser.
Li said the US is likely to show significant signs of improvement in anti-epidemic work in April or May when Biden’s policy takes effect.
But before that, the country has to continue to suffer from the raging epidemic, especially as winter and the Christmas holidays approach, when people usually gather to celebrate, while the coronavirus becomes more active in low temperatures, the experts warned.
They also emphasised that the key to fighting the pandemic is have international cooperation and share anti-epidemic experience.
Courtesy of The Global Times