by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[I]t’s essential, too, for our public officials to plan the gradual and regionally tailored return to normality that will need to follow this period. A hard pause and then a soft start must be our strategy.
And yet at the same time, our government needs to be directing resources and coordinating efforts on the medical-research front. A vaccine is a ways off, but effective treatments need not be. Drugs that help give those with the most acute cases of COVID-19 a much better chance of recovering would be transformative in our fight against the pandemic. They could completely change our approach to living with the virus. And the difference that having a drug available this summer rather than next year could make, in the lives of patients and the health of our economy, would be beyond measure.
An appropriate sense of urgency in Washington could help make that difference. America’s extraordinary biomedical-research sector is unmatched in the world, which means that any treatment is most likely to come from the United States. The federal government will need to both clear the way and pave a path for that effort, but there has been is a marked lack of urgency on this front. …
… Only one entity has any chance of quickly breaking through these barriers and coordinating ongoing work while also assuring the researchers involved that the credit (and intellectual property) will end up where they belong in the end: The National Institutes of Health. In normal times, the NIH itself can be quite slow and bureaucratic. But it has the requisite standing with all involved, the capacity to facilitate investigation and optimize clinical trials, and the necessary experience coordinating public and private work to take this on.
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