President deprived of pre-election vaccine boost

Imagine if Pfizer would have announced positive results for its vaccine one week earlier, before the election and not after. Opinion.

Martin Oliner ,

President Trump
President Trump
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced harsh criticism for his decision to not yet call Democratic candidate Joe Biden the “president-elect.”

Israeli politicians - from opposition leader Yair Lapid to Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz - have accused Netanyahu of harming the bipartisan US-Israel relationship.

Media outlets have criticized Netanyahu for being sensitive and careful in his congratulatory message to Biden.

But Netanyahu - who is correctly impatient in trying to get Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for Israelis as US President Donald Trump did for Americans - was absolutely right to be patient when it comes to American politics. He was smart to be cautious in allowing the remaining vote counting and essential legal procedures to run their course.

The following tweet does not come from any right-wing Israeli or American politician. It was posted by former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday. November 4, the same day Netanyahu congratulated Biden without calling him the president-elect.

“We'll know the election results when every ballot is counted,” she wrote. “That's how democracy works.”

It took Hillary three more days to tweet that “the voters have spoken” and chose Biden, after she came under tremendous political pressure and looked like a sore loser from her own race.

By contrast, no harm has been done to Israel by Netanyahu being especially sensitive to the current political situation in the United States. If anything, he and Israel may end up being rewarded by President Donald Trump, who will remain in the office for at least another two months, if not four more years.

Netanyahu has demonstrated that he is grateful to the president for everything he has done for Israel, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the embassy, breaking the dangerous Iran deal, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and bringing about normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

There could be more peace deals on the way, or perhaps more steps to recognize the rights of Jews to live in communities in the Biblical heartland of the Jewish people in Judea and Samaria.

Israelis need to respect that despite the haste in the American press prematurely declaring Biden the winner, President Trump has earned his right to look into allegations of voting irregularities and weigh his legal options. The president’s charges of fake news are legitimate.

President Trump has fought an uphill battle against all odds. The fact that more than 70 million people voted for him after four years of bad press is nothing short of a miracle and a tremendous vote of confidence in his leadership, his abilities and his domestic and foreign policies.

Regardless of what the final outcome will be, it is indisputable that the race was so close that even one critical news development could have made all the difference.

Imagine if Pfizer would have announced positive results for its coronavirus vaccine one week earlier, before the election and not after.

Pfizer’s top management has admitted that the lab testing of their study participants was suspended before the election and the results of the study were in effect frozen.

William Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, told STAT News that Pfizer and BioNTech had decided to stop having their lab confirm cases of Covid-19 in the study and left their samples in storage. If Pfizer had held to its original plan, the data would likely have been available in October, as its CEO, Albert Bourla, initially promised.

Bourla and other company leaders repeatedly suggested that they may have data in October. They could have said that any announcement would be guided by science, not politics, but they instead raised expectations.

Coincidentally, Bloomberg News Service has revealed that the Federal Drug Administration was involved in Pfizer's decisions to change their timetable for testing, which led to the successful results not being revealed before the election.

President Trump's success in bringing a vaccine before the election but not receiving credit for it was just one “coincidence” among many that were to the detriment of President Trump and could have made a major difference.

I can only wish that Democrats in America and the anti-Trump media could be as patient, careful and smart as Netanyahu.

Israelis should consider themselves lucky to have such leadership, as Israel approaches its own election.

The writer is former mayor of Lawrence, New York, and is chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity and a committee member of the Jewish Agency. Martinoliner@gmail.com. The views expressed are his own.



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