Some people whose recent record of predicting elections is better than mine say that riots will decide this year’s presidential race. Other people think that, one way or the other, the mail will decide it.
Both theories are plausible. However, I suspect the Wuhan coronavirus virus will be the deciding factor. I just don’t see America reelecting President Trump if, for example, 1,000 deaths per day continue to be attributed to the virus, especially if there is no end in sight.
But now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told public health officials in all 50 states and the U.S. territories to plan to distribute a coronavirus vaccine to health-care workers and other high-priority groups as early as Nov. 1. That’s two days before the election, in case anyone is counting.
In a letter of August 27, Dr. Robert Redfield said that the CDC has contracted with a pharmaceutical company, McKesson Corp., to enable the possible distribution of hundreds of millions of vaccine doses to health departments and medical facilities across the country in the fall. He asked governors for their help in expediting applications for distribution facilities that will be set up and operated by McKesson. “If necessary,” Dr. Redfield added, the agency “asks you to consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from being fully operational by November 1, 2020.”
In one scenario, 2 million doses would be distributed by the end of October. Another 10 million to 20 million doses would be distributed by the end of November.
This letter doesn’t mean that a vaccine actually will be ready for distribution by November 1 — just that, in a best case scenario, it could be. Until now, it seemed like the best case scenario would be distribution by the end of the year.
Getting a safe and effective vaccine out by the end of October would be an amazing accomplishment. If I recall correctly, it took almost two years to do this for SARS. By then, the outbreak had been contained.
Given President Trump’s focus on developing a vaccine and the massive federal effort to accomplish this, I think the public would give him a good deal of credit were one to be ready by Election Day, even on a small scale. If Trump still needs a game changer by that point, this could be it.