• Relations between the US and China were already fraught before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, something that the global race for a coronavirus vaccine has frayed even further.
  • One US senator, in fact, has made new vaccine-related comments that could drive a wedge even deeper into that relationship.
  • Florida Republican senator Rick Scott said she’s seen evidence that suggests China is not only trying to beat the US to be first to develop a coronavirus vaccine — but that China is also actively trying to sabotage our efforts.

Assuming it’s true, we can probably file this news about coronavirus vaccine development in the “no one should be remotely surprised by this” category: China, according to one US senator, wants to be the first country to develop a viable coronavirus vaccine.

Rick Scott, a Republican senator from Florida, told the BBC during an interview this weekend that China is trying to sabotage the US’ race to develop a coronavirus vaccine. “They have decided to be an adversary to Americans and I think to democracy around the world,” Scott declared, adding that “we have evidence that communist China is trying to sabotage us or slow it down.” Those remarks, which came the same day that coronavirus deaths around the world have now surpassed 400,000, did not include any evidence to back up that claim, which Scott vaguely attributed to intelligence services.

Meanwhile, not only did he insist that China is trying to hamper our effort to develop or obtain a viable vaccine — he also thinks that if China does beat us to the punch, that the country will shut the US out of sharing in the benefits of its vaccine. “What I really believe is whether England does it first or we do it first, we are going to share,” Scott said. “Communist China, they are not going to share.”

Scott has long been a staunch supporter of the administration of President Trump, which has blasted China not only for allegedly covering up the virus and for a crucial delay in alerting the world to key facts about the virus. But some members of the administration are also on record as accusing China of, in fact, manufacturing the virus that’s now responsible for more than 7 million infections around the world. That’s according to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University.

In terms of the actual race among countries like the US to develop a successful coronavirus vaccine, the latest comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci — who’s the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — reveal that vaccine manufacturing will actually start much sooner than expected, and well before we know for sure that these vaccine candidates work. That way, we can save a great deal of time, by fast-tracking the vaccine development.

While China has at least four vaccine candidates reportedly in some stage of development, Pfizer also recently joined the list of entities that might have a vaccine candidate ready in 2020, with a tentative availability window set for October.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.