Viewpoint: Beware a fraudulent ‘October vaccine surprise’ as Trump maneuvers to win re-election

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Oct. 23, 2020, 9 a.m., with 10 days before the election, Fox New releases a poll showing President Trump trailing Joe Biden by eight percentage points.

Oct. 23, 2020, 3 p.m., at a hastily convened news conference, President Trump announces that the Food and Drug Administration has just issued an Emergency Use Authorization for a coronavirus vaccine. Mr. Trump declares victory over Covid-19, demands that all businesses reopen immediately and predicts a rapid economic recovery.

Given how this president has behaved, this incredibly dangerous scenario is not far-fetched. In a desperate search for a political boost, he could release a coronavirus vaccine before it had been thoroughly tested and shown to be safe and effective.

There are 123 candidate Covid-19 vaccines in development, and 10 are in human trials. Many have not even been tested, or only perfunctorily tested, in animals. In July, the National Institutes of Health is planning to begin randomized phase III trials to test whether some of the 10 vaccines prevent infection with coronavirus. Some pharmaceutical companies are planning to start their own trials at about the same time.

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Thousands of Americans have already died as Donald Trump has perpetually postponed effective public health interventions and made poor therapeutic recommendations. We must be on alert to prevent him from corrupting the rigorous assessment of safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in order to pull an October vaccine surprise to try to win re-election.

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