I just found out that we’ve had a COVID vaccine since January 13, 2020, a mere two days after a brave Chinese scientist published the virus’ genetic sequence. In this superb article, David Wallace-Wells details how Moderna created its vaccine, which has proven highly effective in trials, in a single weekend.
What if we had made that vaccine available to anyone who wanted it, albeit with a major safety warning, in January? Tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of lives might have been saved. We might also have been able to collect more safety data sooner, from those very volunteers.
In an insightful post, economist John Cochrane proposes such a system that would track those volunteers and thereby collect great safety data (see part 2 of his post). This could be done alongside the traditional clinical trials the FDA mandates, rather than in place of them.
Such a system would provide greater freedom, more data, and a chance to save lives. With thousands dying in the US alone per day, what are we waiting for?