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Sharing the cure

Charity begins at home, especially in safeguarding Americans from COVID-19. But we have a long, praiseworthy record of having big hearts, and now should be no exception to that.

Efforts to develop new medicines to treat the symptoms of COVID-19 and to develop vaccines against it have proceeded at a feverish pace. That is true in other developed countries as well as here in the United States.

Gratifying success has been reported, both here and in Europe. Still, experts predict vaccines will not be available until early 2021. Once they are put in production, supplies will be limited.

That worries many people in countries without their own research, development and health care manufacturing capabilities. It has been suggested lives will be lost because nations such as ours will hoard vaccines, refusing to share them with the rest of the world.

But that need not be the case. We are Americans, after all. Historians are aware that for well over a century, our efforts to save others in the world from famine, disease and disaster have set new standards for the rest of the world. Beyond any reasonable doubt, what our nation has done has saved hundreds of millions of lives.

So it can — and should — be again.

What is needed is a determination to develop effective vaccines at top speed, then manufacture them in quantities adequate to serve both Americans and others.

It is not possible for us to become the inoculator to the world, of course. There are 7.8 billion human beings on the planet. No single nation is capable of producing and distributing enough vaccine to immunize everyone against COVID-19.

We can try, however. That will mean getting behind private-sector researchers and producers of vaccines, possibly with a significant amount of taxpayer subsidies. Companies capable of producing huge quantities of vaccine need to be incentivized to do just that, as quickly as possible. Then, as soon as a enough to safeguard Americans has been gotten out the door, shipments to other countries that are defenseless on their own should start.

We can do this. Because we are Americans, we must.

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