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A M Reid
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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The coronavirus, formally named COVID-19, is spreading rapidly with more than 100,000 cases worldwide. Recently, the World Health Organization declared that the death rate of reported cases is approximately 3.4 percent; more fatal than seasonal flu. In the United States, there has been 26 coronavirus-related deaths so far.
Last week, at a hearing on Capitol Hill, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that when the vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, it will not be free, and he cannot guarantee it will be at an affordable price.
“We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable,” Azar said, “but we can’t control that price, because we need the private sector to invest. The priority is to get vaccines and therapeutics. Price controls won’t get us there.”
Donald Trump previously announced that a vaccine would be ready in the upcoming months, however, this claim differs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who estimated that it would take a year minimum for a vaccine to be developed.
Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic nomination in the presidential election, hosted a public health roundtable talk in Detroit Monday regarding the coronavirus outbreak. During the discussion, Sanders heavily criticized the Trump administration’s recent comments about vaccine cost and affordability.
“It goes without saying that the United States must work with scientists around the world to aggressively develop a vaccine for the coronavirus,” Sanders told the crowd.
“The Trump administration has suggested, as some of you know, that the vaccine might be too costly for some people to afford. How vulgar, obscene is that idea, that you’re rich, you can get the vaccine, you’re poor, you can’t get the vaccine. You’re going to die, you’re going to live so that the drug companies can make their outrageous profits? Not acceptable to the American people.”
“When that vaccine is developed and it must be developed as quickly as we can working with folks all over the world, obviously it should be made free to every person in this country and, in fact, every person in the world.”
Notably, at a rally in St. Louis, Sanders pledged that if he is elected as president he would ensure every citizen received the vaccine for free.
“Let me tell you, if elected president, everybody in this country will get that vaccine absolutely free,” Sanders said, adding, “Is that a radical statement? I mean that is the most obvious statement that anybody can makes.”
However, there have been concerns regarding Sanders’s proposal of making the vaccine free for all. Thomas Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, warned that the lack of profitability would disincentivize pharmaceutical companies from developing the vaccine.
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