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August 24, 2021

Will FDA Vaccine Approval Change Minds?

Perhaps some will be convinced, but a polarized climate leaves a lot of distrust.

Here come the vaccination mandates. That’s going to be the biggest impact following the FDA’s announcement Monday that it has in record time officially approved the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 16 and older. Will this convince reluctant Americans?

The FDA’s approval of the vaccine comes in the midst of the surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths resulting from the Delta variant of COVID. Is getting vaccinated a good idea? For most people, unless you’ve already had COVID, yes. Yet just 51% of Americans are fully vaccinated, albeit in many cases because they’re too young. Would the surge right now be as high if more people were vaccinated? Likely not, though a Mayo Clinic study recently concluded that the two primary vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are less effective against the Delta variant than they were against the original. Ironically, the newly approved Pfizer shot is far less effective than the still-unapproved Moderna vaccine.

Some protection is better than none, and reduced symptoms are better than severe ones.

Nevertheless, after one party in particular so thoroughly politicized the vaccines in order to win an election, millions of Americans don’t trust what a government agency is telling them. Gee, how surprising.

In theory, the FDA approval should bolster confidence. That’s what The Wall Street Journal editorial board argues. In part, they say, that’s because “there’s now more data vouching for the Pfizer vaccine’s safety than there has been for any other vaccine approved by the FDA.”

In reality, however, this expedited process will only solidify in the minds of many that the fix was in from the beginning. As even the Journal notes, “Pfizer’s vaccine has gone from development to full approval in less than 18 months, a fraction of the 10 to 12 years required on average.” That in and of itself certainly isn’t evidence of a conspiracy, but among citizens who greatly distrust government and the media, it doesn’t exactly disprove one either.

One could be forgiven for asking if the 2020 election would have turned out differently if either Pfizer or Moderna had announced their vaccine days before it instead of days afterwards. One also might wonder if expediting now merely serves Joe Biden’s political purposes. Aside from his vaccination goals, there is a debacle in Afghanistan from which he’d like to distract you.

Those nods to understandable conclusions aside, we in our humble shop happen to think (life-saving) innovation happens best when government gets out of the way. That’s what happened here.

Yet the authoritarians among us won’t be content until everyone is made to agree, which will have exactly the opposite result.

New York City has already announced its Orwellian “Key to NYC” vaccination mandate. Numerous corporations and schools already had implemented mandates. Many more will do likewise using FDA approval as justification. That includes the Pentagon.

“Today I’m calling on more companies … in the private sector to step up the vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people,” Biden said. “If you’re a business leader, a non-profit leader, a state or local leader, who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that. … Do what I did last month, requiring employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements.”

Biden may be suffering severe cognitive decline, but he — or at least his handlers — know exactly what his statement will do. It will divide Americans along red and blue lines, rather than allowing for free people to make free choices. That’s a gross misuse of his bully pulpit, and it will cost lives.

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