Polio-era epidemiologist warns Trump’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ could backfire horrifically

Polio-era epidemiologist warns Trump’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ could backfire horrifically
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield visited the NIH on June 12, 2018. In this image Dr. Redfield visits the Vaccine Research Center and learns about universal flu vaccine development. Dr. Anthony Fauci (r), Director of NIAID, accompanied the visit. Credit: National Institutes of Health

President Donald Trump is pushing for a COVID-19 vaccine to be pushed out the door by the end of the year through an initiative called “Operation Warp Speed.”


However, a veteran epidemiologist who helped deal with the polio outbreak in the 1950s warns that rushing a vaccine for political purposes could backfire horrifically.

In a letter to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Lauri Thrupp drew upon his experience working for the Centers for Disease Control to urge caution in producing a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Research showed that each lot of [polio] vaccine required sophisticated testing to ensure that no live virus remained,” he writes. “This caveat was not adequately conveyed to the several pharmaceutical companies rushing to produce the vaccine… Cutter Laboratories, inexperienced in viral research, failed to detect live virus in multiple lots. The resulting thousands of infections and several deaths is called the Cutter Incident.”

Thrupp concludes by saying that the Trump administration risks making a deadly error if it pushes out a flawed vaccine that ends up actually giving people COVID-19.

“In the ‘warp speed’ push for a COVID-19 vaccine, the Trump administration’s anti-science policies and budget cuts to key agencies, its silencing of scientists like Dr. Rick Bright, and its initial suppression of the CDC’s safe opening guidelines are dangerous to the public’s health not only in America, but worldwide,” he writes.

Read the whole letter here.

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