Trump Calls Covid-19 Vaccine The ‘Trumpcine,’ Mocks Fauci Again


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Would you ever get something called a “Trumpcine?” Perhaps your answer may depend on what exactly it protects against and whether bleach is involved.

On Saturday night, former U.S. President and current Mar-A-Lago resident Donald Trump mentioned that very name during the Republican National Committee’s first spring donor retreat. Josh Dawsey a reporter for the Washington Post tweeted that “Trump says someone came to him, who he refers to as ‘sir,’ and suggested that it be called a ‘Trumpcine.’” It’s not quite clear who the “sir” may be but apparently “it” is the Covid-19 vaccine. Yes, it seems like Trump was suggesting that the available Covid-19 vaccines should be named after, chicken drumstick roll please, himself.

Hmm, when has Trump ever tried to name something after himself?

Well, sir, typically, a vaccine is named after the disease that it is supposed to protect against. For example, the measles vaccine is designed to protect against the measles, the flu vaccine against the flu, and the hepatitis B vaccine against hepatitis B. In theory, a cupcake vaccine would protect against either attacks by cupcakes or maybe becoming a cupcake. So in turn would a Trumpcine actually protect against a Trump? Or is Trump somehow suggesting that the Covid-19 coronavirus be renamed the “Trump virus?”

This isn’t the first time that Trump has tried to take credit for the Covid-19 vaccine. Last month, Bess Levin wrote for Vanity Fair a piece entitled “Donald Trump Demands Americans Picture His Face While COVID Vaccine Enters Their Bodies.” Now, it’s not clear how maintaining such a picture in your mind may impact the side effects that you may have when getting the Covid-19 vaccine. In the piece, Levin referred to a statement issued by Trump’s office that said, “I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the Covid-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t president, you wouldn‘t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!”

Often referred to as the China Virus? By which real scientists and public health experts exactly? Did Trump forget the words “by me” at the end of that phrase?

As a reminder, Trump has about as many scientific degrees as a cinder block. He neither initiated nor conducted research that led to the Covid-19 vaccines. Work on such vaccines actually had started well before Trump’s term as President. The original severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in the early 2000’s had prompted efforts around the world to develop a coronavirus vaccine, although a general dearth of funding ended up slowing these efforts considerably. At the same time, work on mRNA vaccine technology in general was already underway back in the 1990’s, as Damian Garde and Jonathan Saltzman have described for STAT. These efforts were hampered as well by lack of funding and lack of support in academia.

Prior to 2020, Trump didn’t do a whole lot to support such research and development. In fact, through each of the first three years of his Presidency, Trump sought to cut funding to scientific organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH). So who knows how much further along the Covid-19 vaccines could have been had the Trump Administration been more supportive of scientific research.

The Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed, which coincidentally is OWS for short, did provide funding to companies like Moderna in 2020 to develop their Covid-19 vaccine. However, as The New York Times reported, Pfizer, whose Covid-19 vaccine was the first to earn emergency use authorization in the U.S., has insisted that “We were never part of the Warp Speed. We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.” Plus, since its inception, OWS made numerous missteps, including a Covid-19 vaccine roll-out that fell far short of its goals in December and January, as I covered previously for Forbes. Moreover, it’s not clear how much of OWS can be credited to Trump as others such as Anthony Fauci, MD, the Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) appeared to have done a lot of the work.

Speaking of Fauci, Trump didn’t exactly offer a “thank you” to Fauci on Saturday night. That’s unless you consider Trump saying, “Have you ever seen anybody that is so full of bleep,” to be some kind of thank you. The last word in Trump’s statement wasn’t really “bleep” but rather a word that starts with a “cr” and rhymes with “tourist trap” or “golf cap.”

Speaking of that word, Trump’s use of the word “Trumpcine” exemplifies some broader problems in our society. One is political leaders and others not giving credit to scientists who actually did the work to bring a technology to the market. Putting Trump or some other politicians in a laboratory with some test tubes is probably not likely to yield much without real scientists. Another issue is the myth that one person is responsible for a scientific breakthrough. Whenever a breakthrough occurs, it is usually the result of many people in different places working on the same problem for many years. Scientific research doesn’t usually proceed like it did in the movie Iron Man when Tony Stark disappeared into a lab by himself for a few days and then came up with a brilliant advance. That just doesn’t happen much, unless the discovery is something trivial like a toilet brush shaped like Harry Styles. Real life isn’t like the movies, TV, or even reality TV. At least, it shouldn’t be.