John Delaney, a former Democratic congressman for Maryland who also ran for president in 2020, has an interesting idea to combat coronavirus — but it costs $380 billion.
The politician turned entrepreneur is calling for the federal government to give every American a $1,500 stimulus checks in exchange for getting immunized against COVID-19.
“The faster we get 75 percent of this country vaccinated, the faster we end Covid and the sooner everything returns to normal,” Delaney said in an interview with CNBC.com.
While vaccines will be free once approved by the federal government, a recent Gallup poll found that just 58% of Americans plan to get immunized while 42% said they would not.
“We have to create, in my judgment, an incentive for people to really accelerate their thinking about taking the vaccine,” Delaney said. “If you’re still afraid of the vaccine and don’t want to take it, that’s your right You won’t participate in this program.”
“But guess what?” he added. “You’re going to benefit anyhow, because we’ll get the country to herd immunity faster, which benefits you. So I think everyone wins.”
Sending Americans $1,500 in exchange for vaccinations would cost $380 billion, Delaney said, more than the first stimulus checks sent by the government in March, which cost $270 billion. Lawmakers are currently debating another stimulus package, but so far, there is no additional $1,200 for individual Americans in the proposal.
Biotech firm Moderna on Nov. 30 moved to win emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna is the second pharmaceutical company to request an EUA after Pfizer filed their application on Nov. 20. Moderna said its data showed their vaccine was 94.1% effective in its late-stage clinical trial, just under Pfizer’s efficacy rate of 95%. The Moderna vaccine was developed in conjunction with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.
“We believe that our vaccine will provide a new and powerful tool that may change the course of this pandemic and help prevent severe disease, hospitalizations and death,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. Bancel said last week that 20 million doses will be available by the end of the year.
A key advantage of Moderna’s vaccine is that it does not need sub-zero storage like Pfizer’s, which needs to be kept at -94 degrees.
A third vaccine is also in the pipeline. AstraZeneca and Oxford University on Nov. 23 said their jointly created COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be up to 90% effective and the makers claims will be easier to distribute.
“These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives,” said Oxford University professor Andrew Pollard, who served as the lead investigator for the drug’s trials. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Dec. 2 voted to direct that healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first to get the shots in the initial rollout — once federal regulators authorize use of a vaccine. The recommendation was approved CDC Director Robert Redfield, but governors will eventually have the final say on who gets the vaccine first.