The reason this vaccine didn’t take as long isn’t that Pfizer skimped on safety protocols. It’s because instead of doing each step of the process sequentially one after another, Pfizer and other companies took on enormous financial risk and did every step of the process simultaneously. Even as the vaccine was in early phase I trials, plans were already in place for manufacturing and distribution. I don’t think it can be overstated how costly or risky this is if the vaccine didn’t work.
And from the Antivirus newsletter:
We only need this vaccine so desperately because the United States failed at doing the hard, basic public health work. Providing contact tracing, ample testing, masks, gloves, and clear policies aren’t as exciting as the moonshot of a vaccine, but if the US government had done them well, the country wouldn’t have been so reliant on the impossible.
The fact that we have multiple vaccines within a year that are not only effective, but startlingly effective, is a triumph. And as noted in Antivirus, it’s absolutely essential to the US getting back to normal. Can you imagine if we didn’t have any vaccines on the horizon? We’d be hunkering down for a 2021 that looked a lot like 2020 since the virus was not getting better, it’s only been getting worse, as it has since the spike in deaths in March and April. The vaccines give us hope that 2021 will not be like 2020.