Bernie Sanders should opt for a government-created vaccine from China or Russia

Bernie Sanders should opt for a government-created vaccine from China or Russia
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Briahna Joy Gray: Voters are 'torn' over Ohio special election Shontel Brown wins Ohio Democratic primary in show of establishment strength MORE (I-Vt) has long championed the ability of the government to provide high-quality health care more efficiently and at much lower costs than the private sector. Well, here’s his chance to put his health where his mouth is. He should fly to China or Russia to receive one of their government-created COVID-19 vaccines.

Both countries are on a mission to share their vaccines with other countries as a way of expanding their political and economic influence at a time when both have taken a hit.

The Chinese National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) recently announced that almost one million people, many located in other countries, have received one of its COVID-19 vaccines. And the company chairman, Liu Jingzhen, claims “there has not been a single case of infection after inoculation,” according to The Guardian.

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If true – and it’s unlikely any independent organization would be allowed to verify the claim – it might demonstrate that government-run health care systems really are faster and more efficient, just as Sanders preaches. 

So why not seek permission to travel to China for his inoculation? The Chinese would probably relish the PR opportunity — if, of course, the vaccines are as good as the country claims.

And if the senator is a little squeamish about trusting a Chinese vaccine, he could try Russia instead. 

The Russian government announced in October that it had approved a second COVID-19 vaccine and was close to approving a third.

You may recall that in 1988 Sanders and his newlywed wife, Jane, “honeymooned” in Russia — actually, as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, it was partly official business. As part of his trip, he participated in something like a press conference where he praised Soviet life and culture, while a picture of Vladimir Lenin looked on. 

So why not return and allow the Russian government-run health care system to inoculate him and his wife? The Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow recently announced its new vaccine, Sputnik V, has a 92 percent efficacy rate.

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The name Sputnik V is revealing, since that’s the name of the world’s first artificial satellite successfully launched by the USSR in October 1957, allowing the Russians to beat the U.S. in another very important scientific race — being the first in space.

It was probably only a coincidence that the Gamaleya Center made that announcement just a few days after Pfizer announced its vaccine had a 90 percent efficacy rate.

Jon Cohen, a writer for Science magazine, cites several experts who have serious doubts about the Center’s claims — and with good reason.

Both Russia and China have authoritarian governmental systems that strictly limit both free speech and a free, independent press. Citizens are not allowed to seriously challenge the official position, especially when the official position is supposed to make the country look good in the world’s eyes.

But that shouldn’t dissuade Sanders. As a self-professed Democratic Socialist, it’s the government that can be trusted, not those greedy private sector companies.

As for me, I am eagerly awaiting one of the COVID-19 vaccines created by private sector drug manufacturers. Those companies leaped into the drug discovery process early on, putting up their own capital to find an effective vaccine.

Several private sector companies have developed a vaccine in a record-shattering 10 to 11 months. It usually takes 10 to 12 years to develop a new drug.

A number of Democrats have questioned the safety and efficacy of these new vaccines, even though the drug manufacturers have been transparent throughout the development process — and by a level of magnitude more than the vaccines created in China and Russia.

Even President-elect Joe Biden said he would take one of the vaccines only if experts like Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciPaul knocks YouTube for removing video he posted, points users to competitor Average daily COVID-19 infections topped last summer's peak, CDC says Ron Johnson praises conservative author bashed by Fauci MORE say it’s safe.

But all of those doubts were just Trump-trashing talk. Now that Biden will be president, most of the skepticism posed by the media and the left about the drug manufacturers’ vaccines will magically disappear, as they praise Biden for his tremendous pandemic leadership.

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews.