“The 360” shows you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories and debates.
The approval of two coronavirus vaccines represents a sign of hope as the United States endures its darkest period of the pandemic yet. By any measure, the vaccines are an extraordinary scientific accomplishment. The speed with which they were created and the revolutionary new technology they utilize would both have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
The vaccines were developed through a massive collaborative effort among scientists, governments and private companies, meaning no single person can claim credit for the achievement. That hasn’t stopped President Trump from asserting that he deserves recognition for the role he played in the breakthrough to combat the pandemic.
“If I wasn’t president, you wouldn’t have a vaccine for five years,” Trump told Fox News last week. Earlier he worked to ensure that his administration, not the next one, received recognition. “Don’t let Joe Biden take credit for the vaccine,” Trump said. “Because the vaccines were me.”
In May, the Trump administration launched Operation Warp Speed, a $14 billion effort aimed at accelerating vaccine development and production. The program invested in six vaccine candidates, including the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.
Why there’s debate
Operation Warp Speed played a crucial role in the speedy vaccine development, and Trump deserves credit for his role in that success, many argue. Moderna’s vaccine, in particular, would have taken significantly longer without government investment. Though Pfizer didn’t accept federal funding for its vaccine, the administration did commit to buying billions of dollars’ worth of doses while it was still in development, ensuring that a significant supply was ready to go once it was approved. A similar deal was made with Moderna and three other vaccines still in development.
The president’s critics say the role Operation Warp Speed played is overstated. The vaccines rely on technology that had been in development for years and Trump’s administration relied on plans that were drawn up long before he took office, they argue. Another group says the success of Operation Warp Speed came in spite of, not because of, Trump. As he has with many aspects of the pandemic, the president politicized the vaccine development process and fueled…