A realistic guess at a coronavirus vaccine timeline — and how to know if the process gets politicized

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About 72% of Republicans and 82% of Democrats worry the vaccine approval process is being driven more by politics than science, according to an August survey done by the Harris Poll and STAT News. There’s some evidence to back up those fears. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told the Financial Times that he would consider an emergency use authorization before the end of Phase 3 trials. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked state officials to get their vaccine distribution plans ready by Nov. 1 — conveniently two days before the election. To be honest, the federal government has made coronavirus moves before that have seemed political rather than scientific. I like plasma therapy as an option for coronavirus patients, but Hahn and Health Secretary Alex Azar can’t be making false statements to boast about its efficacy. The CDC removal of hospitalization data has been sketchy. Of course, there’s the news that President Donald Trump intentionally downplayed the virus early. “I wanted to always play it down,” he told journalist Bob Woodward. Because of all of the above, I would have counted myself in that skeptical group that believed politics would win out in this battle, to the harm of …

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