Be safe, but get it done

When will we have an effective, safe, vaccine against COVID-19? That depends.

Federal public health officials who are in the know and without any political agendas have said deliveries of vaccine can be expected sometime in January. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services predicts a vaccine could be approved by the end of the year, but points out it will take time to distribute.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, described by The Associated Press as “leading the government’s vaccine effort,” elaborated on Friday. He said researchers may know as early as later this month whether one of multiple vaccines being researched is effective against COVID-19.

But, Slaoui added, it will then require weeks to get emergency authorization from the government to administer the vaccine.

A certain amount of delay is understandable and necessary, of course. No one wants to skip any of the steps needed to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective.

This is the federal government, however. It includes a substantial number of bureaucrats who believe dotting all the “i’s” and crossing all the “t’s” is essential for the sake of the process — not necessarily safety and efficacy. Many of us have had experience with that “clerk mentality” — and, to be fair, it can be seen in the private sector as well as government.

Bureaucracy as usual simply will not do in this situation, however. People are dying.

By whatever authority is required, the word needs to go out to any federal official or agency involved in providing emergency authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine: If there are health and safety concerns, by all means take time to resolve them.

But no delay of even hours for any other reason will be tolerated.

By Patricia Older