As news has dribbled out recently that a coronavirus vaccine might hit the market as early as October, lots of Democrats and liberals have reacted with some combination of suspicion and panic that Donald Trump is somehow rigging the trial process to rush out a vaccine to help him win the election. The White House has dubbed the vaccine effort Operation Warp Speed, after all. Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois told The Daily Beast’s Sam Brodey: “I would not put it past this administration and this president to advance his personal political agenda ahead of our national interest.”
Panic is an understandable reaction. If a U.S. company like Moderna does develop a vaccine before Election Day, Trump will preen around as if he developed it himself, and Fox will all but call him Jonas Salk. That’s obvious, right?
Actually, I say it’s not so obvious at all. I think a pre-election vaccine would present a huge dilemma for Trump, and here’s why. Some of his supporters, surely, are people who trust science and would take a vaccine. But a big chunk of his base consists of people who think any vaccine is some plot by Anthony Fauci to make a bajillion dollars and George Soros to sterilize the male population; they will be suspicious of a vaccine and unwilling to take it. So whatever vaccine position he takes, he’s going to turn off one group or the other.