My Body, My Choice

On August 5, economist Tyler Cowen wrote:

How about that Russian vaccine they will be trying in October?

To be clear, I won’t personally try it, and I don’t want the FDA to approve it for use in the United States.

I was shocked, not by Tyler’s own decision not to try it–we all make our own risk/reward tradeoffs–but by his willingness to have the FDA prevent me and other Americans from trying it.

Now you might say that Tyler didn’t say he wanted the FDA to disallow the vaccine; all he said is that he doesn’t want the FDA to approve the Covid-19 vaccine.

That would be a legitimate objection to my criticism if Tyler didn’t understand that as long as the FDA doesn’t approve a drug or test, it also doesn’t allow it.

I have long advocated that the FDA be stripped of its power to disallow drugs and, instead, simply be an information agency. Under my proposal, the FDA could insist on information about safety and efficacy before approving, but it would not be able to prevent drugs that it hasn’t approved.

I’m disappointed that Tyler seems not to agree.

A separate issue, of course, is whether it’s a good idea to take the vaccine. David Friedman gives his view here and, I think, overstates the case for the Russian vaccine’s efficacy. My own view is that I would happily be the one millionth person to take it.