DANIEL VAUGHAN: American exceptionalism saves the day on COVID-19

If the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines live up to their promises, they will radically rewrite how history views 2020. Instead of viewing this moment as a moment of weakness for the United States, we will instead see another American historical achievement.

A despotic regime, China, unleashed a great evil onto the world in the form of COVID-19. World entities like the World Health Organization (WHO), capitulating to China, preventing the world from understanding the genuine threat.

A day before the 2020 election, even The New York Times could only conclude that “[a]s it praised Beijing, the World Health Organization concealed concessions to China and may have sacrificed the best chance to unravel the virus’s origins.”

China lied, people died. The world plunged into the darkness of a global pandemic while the United Nations and the WHO white-washing yet another authoritarian regime.

Europe experienced the worst of the initial brunt. With hospitals filling beyond capacity, doctors were forced to choose who lived and died based on whether they had the resources to treat a person.

But as we’re learning, not all was lost. America, long the great light of liberty, freedom, and innovation, stepped into the gap. Unlike most European countries with socialist health care systems, America had something those countries lacked: the most potent and innovative market-based health care research and development sector humankind has ever seen.

The first major obstacle was the unexpected lack of ventilators to save the most severe patients suffering from COVID-19. But instead of anguishing about that, Americans rolled up their sleeves, and the federal government — under the request of President Trump — fixed that problem. According to a report from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, “[m]anufacturers of ventilators ramped up production to meet increased demand, and companies such as GM, Ford, Dyson, Rolls-Royce, and Tesla made efforts to shift their manufacturing facilities to create ventilators.”

And it wasn’t just creating the ventilators: the federal government also made sure they could get those ventilators to those who needed them. After building a massive supply, they estimate ventilators “could arrive within 24-36 hours of the Federal decision to deploy them.”

But it wasn’t just meeting a need. At the height of the problem, President Trump promised we’d produce 100,000 ventilators in 100 days. We didn’t just hit that goal. America obliterated it, according to the Los Angeles Times:

An analysis of federal contracting data by the Associated Press shows the agency is now on track to exceed 100,000 new ventilators by around July 13, about a week later than the 100-day deadline Trump first gave on March 27. By the end of 2020, the administration is expected to take delivery of nearly 200,000 new ventilators, based on the AP’s review of current federal purchasing contracts. That would more than double the estimated 160,000 ventilators hospitals across the U.S. had before the pandemic.

We now have a surplus of ventilators. After that issue came the problem of testing.

At the beginning of March, national testing was a disaster; we were barely running a few hundred or, if we were lucky, 1,000 tests a week. We’re now regularly testing more than 1.5 million people a day.

America was not satisfied with those accomplishments, however. She wanted more. And so the Trump administration launched Operation Warp Speed, focused on creating the first-ever coronavirus vaccine from scratch. Remember, we’ve never invented a coronavirus vaccine of any kind. The program started sending out grants, cutting red tape, and getting all the great American pharmaceutical companies to work together at the end of March.

And now, in November, less than eight months later, the United States of America has produced not one, but two vaccines for the novel coronavirus that has ravaged the planet. The American free market, which was blasted as too disorganized to defeat the virus, has produced two vaccine candidates, multiple therapeutics, and a treasure trove of research on treating the virus.

But as we learn more about these new vaccines, it’s not just that we’ve created an answer to a virus. America may have unlocked the key to defeating even more diseases. Dr. Akino Yamashita, a physician board-certified in internal medicine, writes for The Dispatch:

The development of two likely successful mRNA vaccines bodes well for reasons beyond the current pandemic. The same technology could be used to rapidly test and manufacture influenza vaccines. It’s even theoretically possible to create an mRNA supervaccine that contains copies of RNA from 20 different viruses, all given at the same time in one shot. The technology may also be used for vaccines meant to rev up the immune system to fight against cancer.

Call it American exceptionalism, American greatness, or whatever you want. China, a tyrannical communist police-state, unleashed a biological horror on the world. The United States answered the call and is saving the world. Again.

We’ve also experienced significant losses along the way. The more than a quarter of a million people who have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the United States is a tragedy, as are the nearly 1.4 million people who have died globally.

But it’s also clear we’ve defeated the worst-case scenario models of the spring, which predicted millions dead in the United States by the end of the summer. We’re in the middle of a destructive second wave of the virus now. Defeating that requires the vigilance of an exhausted country.

What makes this surge different from the others is one fact: we have light at the end of the tunnel. We have hope. There are multiple vaccines. It’s possible to reach the end of this global pandemic armed with more powerful technology, innovation, and research than we had just twelve months ago.

And it was all made possible by decisive leadership at the top and the greatness of American ingenuity and innovation across numerous scientific and engineering fields. There are still a few more chapters to write in this story, but right now, the ending looks like another chapter in American greatness.

Chalk another one up to the good guys, American capitalism, and exceptionalism.