Close by the editorial staff
The editorial office
March 2, 2021, 6:42 p.m. ET
Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) vaccine.
Stringer / Reuters
American governments, federal and state, made many mistakes with the Covid-19 pandemic. The big success – the salvation – however, was to place a financial bet on vaccine development in partnership with private American industry. As early as the spring of these efforts, the country will see the possibility of a return to a relatively normal life.
President Biden announced Tuesday that the US should have enough vaccines for every American adult by the end of May. Last week the Food and Drug Administration finally agreed
Vaccine, and this week J&J signed a contract with Merck to make the single-shot J&J vaccine as well. With the Moderna and
Shots that hit more than a million American guns every week will save thousands of lives.
It is important to know what kind of performance this is. Critics scoffed when President Trump set a goal of getting a vaccine approved by the end of 2020, and
suggested she might not take a shot recommended by the Trump administration.
The Biden-Harris administration has now turned to full-necked encouragement – but not until Trump efforts are further undone. White House aides have suggested they inherited little vaccine and no plan for distribution. Both claims are wrong.
Supply grew rapidly, and while there were distribution problems at first, the real problem was the last mile of state-controlled distribution. Governors like New York City Andrew Cuomo tried to cater to constituencies that wanted early access to vaccines, adding complexity and bureaucracy that confused the public.
Mr Biden made the same mistake on Tuesday, urging states to give priority to educators (read: teachers’ unions), school staff and childcare workers. It’s arbitrary and unfair. A 30-year-old teacher who may still work remotely through September is at far less risk than a 50-year-old FedEx driver who interacts with customers all day. The fairest and least political distribution standard is age.
The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed also commissioned most of the vaccine supply for production prior to FDA approval: 200 million doses each of Pfizer and Moderna and 100 million doses of J&J. Nobody knew which technology would be approved first, if at all, so the government wisely bet on several. This was the best money the government spent on the pandemic. Mr. Biden should credit the vaccine where it is due – US drug companies and Operation Warp Speed.
Potomac Watch: Instead of reopening the classrooms, the new president relies on the work of his predecessor. Image: Oliver Contreras / Zuma Press
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Published in the print edition on March 3, 2021.