As the state’s death count continues to rise, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has offered up his state as a “laboratory”—and, therefore, his constituents as lab rats—for testing of possible coronavirus vaccines.
“It’s over whenever you have a vaccine,” Cuomo said on Wednesday during his daily coronavirus press briefing, according to WHEC.
“Anything we can do to work with the federal government to get the vaccine done faster, we are all in,” the governor continued. “We want to use New York as a laboratory. We are ready, willing, in any way.”
Cuomo added that the state Health Department is eager to work with the federal Food and Drug Administration and that New Yorkers would make perfect test subjects.
“Do you need a place to test it in large numbers?” he said. “Think of New York.”
While Gov. Cuomo has said such a step may take 12 to 18 months, veteran vaccine developers have sharply differed.
Dr. Paul Offit, co-inventor of the current rotavirus vaccine, has said that a 12 to 18-month timeframe is extremely naive, pointing to the decades of work he and his team took to follow gold-standard safety and efficacy procedures in the development of Rotateq.
“When Tony Fauci, Dr. Tony Fauci, stands in front of, on that podium and says to the country, ‘I think we could do this as early as 12-18 months,’ that’s surprisingly fast,” Dr. Offit said in an interview with Dr. Zubin Damania earlier in April. “You have an average length of time to go from initial research to having a vial of vaccine that’s distributed to the country is, on average, about 20 years. Our vaccine took 26 years. A little long.”
Dr. Offit also pointed to instances of rushed or ineffective vaccines that were released to market with devastating results, including an early dengue fever vaccine that caused more children to die painful deaths than the disease itself, or the RSV vaccine that gave vaccinated children increased chances of pneumonia over unvaccinated children.
Although Cuomo’s eagerness to test a potentially rushed vaccine on New Yorkers may be hasty, current coronavirus stats may push people in the state to be more afraid of the virus and willing to cooperate with testing.
Total hospitalizations in the state have stayed virtually flat as of Wednesday, even dropping slightly from 18,697 to 18,335. Nonetheless, the state’s fatality count continues to rise, reaching 12,192 at the time of this writing.
The numbers take an even more tragic turn as the state begins to factor in thousands of “probable but officially unconfirmed” COVID-19 deaths, The New York Post reports.
It may be the case that Gov. Cuomo finds enough willing volunteers who want to take their chances with a new vaccine that he won’t have to resort to finding unwilling participants. Given the state’s recent history of revoking the religious exemption to vaccination for schoolchildren, this contributor has witnessed concerns of New Yorkers that mandatory vaccination could be on the horizon.
“We need to remind Gov. Cuomo New York’s children are not guinea pigs,” declared the New York Alliance for Vaccine Rights in a Facebook post. “Based on his performance to date and his statements, we cannot reasonably expect Cuomo to put the safety of New York’s children, and their right not to be guinea pigs in medical experiments, before rushing a hastily prepared vaccine to market.”
Folks, we cannot sacrifice our precious liberty for perceived safety. Cuomo might not understand that—fine, let him be first in line to volunteer for the vaccine. He has the right to control no other body than his own. It is, and must remain, the right of each individual to determine their own choice.
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