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The president has done two things that are very dangerous. The first is that the FDA authorized the emergency use of blood plasma. The second is that he intends to approve a vaccine before critical phase three testing. In other words, he intends to follow Vladimir Putin who already did this with the Russian vaccine, dubbed Sputnik-V.

There are few things to be said about this. The first is that blood plasma as a treatment is not new. It’s been around for a long time. It was treatment during the 1918 Influenza epidemic, for example. So it is not a breakthrough technologically. However, we do not have we had the necessary testing to make sure this old treatment works with COVID-19. To ensure this, you need double-blind medical studies. This is the way to do it. It’s a modern scientific standard

Donald Trump does not care about that. He wants this to be emergency authorized because he is desperate for a victory over the virus. He does not care about science, or whether it works. He just wants to tell all of us that he has found a cure. What he did with the FDA, essentially pressuring them to do an emergency authorization, is exactly what happens in authoritarian states. Yes, we know the FDA says they were not, but in reality in authoritarian states pressured agencies do not admit to it either.

We have seen this movie before and it is not a nice one. This is exactly how both Soviet and Nazi science was done. It did not follow standards, many of whom were established through the death and disability of people. Also, they were supposed to prove the superiority of their science over western science. The soviets did launch Sputnik, which led to a new interest in science during the height of the Cold War. The United States invested heavily in it.

Nazi science ignored what they called Jewish science. This included nuclear physics. In the end, this was a good thing. If you believe a nuclear weapon was needed to end the war. There is no doubt that if the Germans were first, thy would have used it. This is not a possibility, it is a reality. And before people go, but how about the United States? I am not defending the use of the weapon, but understand where it was used, why it was used. It went beyond just ending World War II. In effect, that was the beginning of the Cold War.

What Trump wants to do is also a return to a time when we did things like the Tuskegee experiment. This is violating all kinds of medical ethics that were developed to prevent this kind of experimentation. At this point, it will be at a population level.

Approving a vaccine without a third stage clinical trial could mean a vaccine that will be less effective, or worst could see too many side effects that will not come out until after we start giving it to a lot of people. This is what third stages are designed to do, to discover side effects. They are done with people who grant consent, fully aware of the risks, and with access to medical care. That an administration full of white supremacists who question science is attempting to do this should surprise no-one.

This is no joke. We need a vaccine, and we need treatments. But doing it this way will lower trust in either the treatment or the vaccine. We could also see side effects that could be deadly, or that will prevent the use of a vaccine that is safer later on. This is what happened with Thalidomide, which led to babies born with stunted arms and legs, or none at all. It will decrease even further the trust in the vaccine system in the country. We have enough problems with those who question vaccines.

Trump will not stop because his only way to reelection is a cure or the perception of one. He knows this. The country will not go back to normal, no matter what he does. I personally wonder if he is also seeing what Vladimir Putin is doing? Putin is a strong man and his word is the law. Trump desires that power.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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