State health officials recently sketched out for the public a three-phase plan to distribute a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, a fete public health experts acknowledge will be challenging.
It would be hard to deny Americans were caught flat-footed by the COVID-19 pandemic. So the need to get ahead of this disease — before it claims too many more than the 208,000 Americans it has to date — seems imperative.
More imperative is the need for public health officials to present a clear and transparent message — avoid the bluster and spin this has accompanied this pandemic. Politics should have been shoved aside in January, when this public health crisis began to take shape.
We applaud the state's efforts to establish an effective distribution plan for a vaccine that will protect us from the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes. But claims by Dr. Lance Frye, who serves as interim health commissioner for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, that a "vaccinations could be as soon as Nov. 1" offer little more than false hope and could be seen as political deception.
Frye's comments came just days after the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to issue a tough new standard for any emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine. That announcement was made because most Americans have no faith that those who should be leading the response to this pandemic will tell them the truth.
While Frye included a caveat with his bravado, any hype by public health officials that leads to false expectations is counterproductive and should be avoided. What Americans need more than anything right now is some straight talk from their leaders, not another dose of snake oil.