The Trump Administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” which promises millions of vaccines by the early 2021, may be fanning the flames of an increasingly vaccine-hesitant public, experts warn.
“The way the message is coming out of Operation Warp Speed creates a lot of chaos and confusion. And it is enabling the anti-vaccine movement” says Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in a CNN article last Friday.
The anti-vaccine movement has become increasingly vocal about potentially mandatory vaccination programs making claims that vaccines are dangerous, often taking science and vaccine package inserts out of context.
The anti-vaccine community has a deadly track record: telling fellow conspiracy theorists to drink bleach to prevent against COVID-19, increasing incidence of measles and mumps, and convincing a concerned mother not to give their child Tamiflu, instead fatally treating the serious illness with thyme, elderberries, and putting potatoes in his socks.
Now the rushed timelines of vaccine development is quickly bolstering anti-vaccine arguments. In an article early this week by Hotez, he describes the negative effects already happening with the decline in vaccination rates,
"in the face of extensive regulatory measures and an abundance of evidence proving the safety and efficacy of vaccines, even before coronavirus struck, vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles and flu viruses, were already resurging in the US"
"What does the anti-vaccine lobby allege?....They say we rush vaccines, that we don't adequately test them for safety, and that there is this conspiratorial relationship between Big Pharma and the government," Said Hotez.
Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, agrees and references the pace of Operation Warp Speed vaccine development as a convenient narrative to play into the anti-vaccine argument that vaccines are poorly regulated for safety, instead pushed as poisons to the populations fueled by profit.
"The way they are messaging it is a little frightening because they make a point of saying how quickly it is being done,"
Operation Warp Speed promises to deliver 300M vaccines by early January 2021. Recently, five finalists were selected to receive funding ($2.2B) and support by the government to test and produce those vaccines. Pfizer, one of the five finalists suggested they may complete their vaccine as early as October of this year.
"President Trump's vision for a vaccine by January 2021 will be one of the greatest scientific and humanitarian accomplishments in history, and this is the team that can get it done," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.