- - Wednesday, December 2, 2020

If Joe Biden wants to succeed with his bipartisanship, get Republicans to cooperate, protect the nation from resurgences of the COVID-19 virus and help the economy roar back, here’s a plan: Do a major speech including giving President Trump credit for the vaccine’s Operation Warp Speed to develop and distribute it.  

Mr. Trump deserves credit, because his (in this case) proper compulsiveness to get it done at record speed and pre-manufacture massive numbers of doses, merits credit from all sides.

Now, for the good of the nation, in this speech, forget the early denial is causing delays in prevention mechanisms like masks, not using the Defense Production Act for PPE’s, and blocking the CDC, FDA and OSHA from guidelines for transparency and protections in nursing homes and meat plants. This is a time to motivate the country, nearly half of which Gallup polling says will not accept the vaccine as of now.

Yet, NIH Director Francis Collins asserts the vaccine “can be trusted” and would save “hundreds of thousands of lives.” We can and must work together to allay virus fears and not play politics.

This is a time for Republicans and Democrats to come together for the health of the nation and the world.

If Mr. Biden does give Mr. Trump credit, what can Mr. Trump do? Say, “See, Biden gave me credit?” Or “Don’t do it, because Biden said to?” Now, even President Trump can come aboard, in harmony on this point, and Republican anti-Biden forces could, too, on this issue, for the good of the country.

If he carries it out, Mr. Biden would be doing exactly what he called for in his campaign, bringing everyone together. As we move forward to distribution of the vaccine, the first Emergency Use Authorization, for Moderna’s two-dose vaccine, is expected in days. Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca’s authorizations could come shortly after.   

The biggest worry about the vaccine is that enough people won’t take it to provide “herd immunity.” With the early data showing 90% to 95% effectiveness (and in some of the most severe cases, 100%), that would be a big mistake.

The way we get to herd immunity is through a vaccine because the population is protected from the virus instead of exposed to it.

The Mayo Clinic, in a white paper on “Herd Immunity and Covid 19,” said the greater the percent immune, “and the vaccine is an excellent way” to achieve it — the greater the herd immunity. Mayo uses the model of measles and says 94% is “herd immunity.”

It’s imperative to reach herd immunity through a vaccine because if enough people are immune, it becomes much harder for those who are not immune to catch the virus. Mr. Trump has been striving for COVID-19 herd immunity for months — and now both sides could make it actually  happen, by their powerful bully pulpits.

Joe Biden says bipartisanship is needed in America. We believe he’s serious about it. He could mobilize it against the virus by a simple giving of credit as a way to motivate everyone to get the vaccine regardless of politics and protect themselves and the nation.  

• Robert Weiner was a spokesman in the Clinton and George W. Bush White Houses. He was chief of staff of the House Aging Committee and Health Subcommittee, and senior aide to Reps. John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper and Ed Koch. Ben Lasky is senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

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