In a column for the Washington Post, Greg Sargent explained that Donald Trump's plan to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine before November will likely end up being a nightmare for his re-election hopes because his chaotic administration shows no signs of being capable of getting one out to the public should it become available.
Citing experts who pointed out deficiencies in the White House when it comes to implementing any initiative, Sargeant said the president is ramping up the public's expectations on pandemic relief but lacks the leadership qualities needed to institute a mass mobilization to stem the coronavirus death toll.
According to the columnist, Trump is facing two obstacles: lack of planning on what to do when the vaccine becomes available and his own incompetence as a leader -- and those two factors could come back to haunt him on November 3rd.
Writing Trump's "'October surprise' strategy of dangling a possible vaccine before or just after the election will almost certainly fail," the columnist suggested, "Whenever a vaccine is introduced, a long and complex process will follow that will require sustained, engaged, non-megalomaniacal presidential leadership, all conducted in the national interest, a concept Trump cannot begin to fathom."
Pointing out that the president has been dangling the promise of a vaccine before election day -- with the projected launch date changing from speech to speech -- Sargent said the president has painted himself into a corner if vaccine makers fail to deliver. Even if they should succeed, the president has painted the vaccine as a miracle cure that would solve everything despite experts saying masks and other precautions will still be needed before the pandemic can be brought to heel. That, the columnist asserted, will likely disappoint voters expecting to go back to their pre-COVID- 19 lives.
Then there is the problem of getting the vaccine to Americans.
As Tom Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, explained, "There are still a huge number of unknowns. We don’t know if the vaccine is going to work. We don’t know if it’s safe. We don’t know which vaccine will work better than the other. We don’t know which groups will be protected.”
"Then there’s the need to distribute the vaccine. Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, tells me this will entail a 'massive and very complex logistical and production operation to get that vaccine in sufficient scale into people’s arms,'" Sargent wrote, adding that Konyndyk stated that the nation's supply chains may not currently be up to the task to make an appreciable difference.
Adding to the president's problems is his lack of credibility when it comes to the COVID-19 health crisis, making it harder for his own health officials to get Americans to participate in a mass vaccination project -- leading to little change in stemming the tide of infections.
"The very fact that he continues treating the vaccine like a pending cure-all miracle itself betrays the traits that will likely lead countless Americans not to trust him to handle this rollout," the columnist explained before adding, "Why would voters trust Trump to handle such a complex and consequential series of processes going forward, after all we’ve been through?"
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