Op-Ed: On coronavirus vaccine, Sanders’ socialism would hinder private sector innovation we ne

This article originally appeared on Fox News on March 2, 2020.

If there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on it’s that the potential impact of the coronavirus is too important to politicize. That doesn’t mean our political leaders should remain silent, it simply means they should be constructive — if they deem criticism necessary — and otherwise supportive. Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders’ statement Wednesday is a perfect example of what politicians should not be doing.

After repeating his version of the Democrats’ “inadequate and incompetent response” soundbite, Sanders proceeded to claim that “under the Trump doctrine, if you are wealthy you can buy a vaccine and not succumb to the sickness. If you are poor or working class, you have to get sick or even die.” Even for a socialist promoting Medicare-for-all, it was an absurd claim.

Sanders based his claim on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s statement that the administration would work to “ensure” that a coronavirus vaccine is “affordable,” but that it “can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest. Price controls won’t get us there.” Azar’s statement was accurate but certainly did not mean that those who are “poor or working-class” will lack access to a vaccine.

While President Trump has requested $2.5 billion to fight the coronavirus, Congress will clearly authorize far more funding, likely between $4 billion and $8.5 billion. In a joint statement released Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., specifically noted that any funding measure must ensure that “[v]accines are affordable and available to all that need it.”

There is no doubt that President Trump will happily accept additional funding and use whatever is required to assure that, regardless of the vaccine’s ultimate cost, it will be available to everyone, particularly those who are “poor and working-class”. For humanitarian reasons alone, there is no acceptable alternative.

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