If you want to look at the power of the free market and of free enterprise, look nowhere else than the fact that the United States is starting the first human trials on a vaccine for coronavirus.
According to The Associated Press, the human tests are taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, in one of the cities hardest hit by the virus.
The first shots were administered to healthy volunteers on Monday in a first-stage study of a possible vaccine for a disease that had already claimed about 6,500 lives worldwide, the AP reported.
“We’re ‘Team Coronavirus’ now,” Kaiser Permanente study leader Dr. Lisa Jackson told the AP Sunday. “Everyone wants to do what they can in this emergency.”
U.S. researchers gave the first shots in first test of experimental coronavirus vaccine Monday, leading off worldwide hunt for protection as pandemic surges. https://t.co/dcosR5vJhW
— ABC News (@ABC) March 17, 2020
Perhaps most importantly, the first-stage study is a partnership between the government and the private sector — in this case, the National Institutes of Health and the drug company Moderna.
“The National Institutes of Health, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, has been fast-tracking work with biotech company Moderna to develop a vaccine using the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus,” CNBC reported.
“The early-stage, or phase 1, trial will test the vaccine on 45 males and non-pregnant females between the ages of 18 and 55, according to trial details on NIH’s website.”
Jennifer Haller, 43, was the first of four to receive the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, the AP reported.
“We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” she told the AP, adding her two teens “think it’s cool.”
Now, of course, we should keep in mind that even in a best-case scenario, the vaccine won’t be on the market for another 12 to 18 months. A first-stage test is what it sounds like — the first stage in developing a drug that works.
However, it could be a huge boon to the making sure COVID-19 doesn’t make a reappearance. And, while Jackson told the AP her team’s mood was “subdued” as the tests were started, she said it was unprecedented from “going from not even knowing that this virus was out there … to have any vaccine” in just two months.
That’s the American biotech sector — the sector that’s managed to produce tests quickly and efficiently when the Centers for Disease Control’s test ended up failing. The NIH certainly played a part in it, but so did the biotech sector.
And, if there’s one constant we’ve seen during the last few years, it’s that the Democratic Party wants the government more involved in things like this, as it is in other countries.
You could see it in Sunday’s presidential debate. There were two candidates left, of course: Bernie Sanders, who wants the government to take over all health care immedately, and Joe Biden, who wants to get us back to the Fabian method of arriving there, Obamacare.
“One of the reasons we are unprepared is we don’t have a system,” Sanders told the debate audience.
“We’ve got thousands of private insurance plans. That is not a system.”
His system, of course, is “Medicare for all.” That would subsuming our entire health care apparatus into the government, which would assumedly run it as efficiently as the government runs other programs it’s in charge of.
That’s the kind of socialized medicine system liberals praise so much in other countries.
It’d be just like Europe, in other words — a continent we now have a travel ban on.
Perhaps government interference in the biotech sector under “Medicare for all” may seem a stretch to you. Fine. Let’s take a look at what Democrats have already done regarding America’s drug and biotech companies.
Take Nancy Pelosi’s drug plan, highly touted by the Democrats and passed by the House last December. The plan would allow the government to “negotiate” prices on hundreds of drugs without generic versions on behalf of Medicare.
That sounds great until you consider that these drugs often cost massive amounts of money to bring to market. Thus, either the cost burden is shifted to Americans who aren’t covered under Medicare — who might find themselves increasingly unable to afford them — or to drug companies, which would then hedge their bets when it comes to bringing new drugs to market.
That would mean fewer drugs would be developed, depriving Americans of the benefits of breakthroughs in the field of medicine.
The House speaker seems positively free-market when compared to former Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Kamala Harris of California. Speaking to a crowd in November, Harris revealed her plan to deal with drug companies that didn’t agree with the prices she wanted the government to pay: She’d just have the feds steal the patents if any federal funds were used in developing the drugs.
She told the audience that “a lot of drugs, prescription medication, was born out of federal funding for the research and development of that drug. Your taxpayer dollars.”
“So for any drug, where they fail to play by our rules, and if that drug came about because of federal funding for what’s called ‘R&D,’ research and development, I will snatch their patent,” she said. “So, that we will take over.”
Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris on if drug companies do not comply with her mandatory set drug prices: “I will snatch their patent so that we will take over”
Audience asks: “can we do that?”
“Yes, we can do that! Yes, we can do that! … I have the will to do it” pic.twitter.com/gpU8nnGt6h
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 23, 2019
Why work with the government, then? There’s a case to be made for government funding of drug development. The COVID-19 vaccine is an extreme example, but in other cases it can be used to gently direct drug development in a direction public health authorities want. If you take away the carrot and replace it with all stick, all the time, rational human beings are going to stay away from that stick.
Monday’s development should be a powerful argument against that. We have a vaccine in first-stage tests. We should be thankful for companies like Moderna that work with the government, assumedly for their financial benefit.
That’s a system we should be happy with. Private health care, while not necessarily perfect in the United States under its current form, should be something we should be happy with. This isn’t time for the radical transformation the Democrats want.
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