Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Not In The Nick Of Time

At 2:18 of the video below, Senator Elizabeth Warren can be seen asking General Gustave F. Perna, Chief Operating Officer, Federal COVID-19 Response For Vaccine, "will D.O.D. commit to procurement transparency on our federal vaccine efforts?" Perna deferred to an aide but justifiably dissatisfied with the answer given, Warren a moment later stated 

The terms of these contracts were bad, too. Public interest groups had to fight OWS to release its contract and when it did it became clear that the Trump Administration had sold out the American public. Key contracts including contracts with Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson excluded critical taxpayer pricing protections.

The Department of Defense has not been the only cabinet-level agency to hide from the public. Only four days after that Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, we would learn from STAT News

The Trump administration quietly took around $10 billion from a fund meant to help hospitals and health care providers affected by Covid-19 and used the money to bankroll Operation Warp Speed contracts, four former Trump administration officials told STAT.

The Department of Health and Human Services appears to have used a financial maneuver that allowed officials to spend the money without telling Congress, and the agency got permission from its top lawyer to do so. Now, the Biden administration is refusing to say whether the outlay means there will be less money available for hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, and other providers.

Several provider groups said they had not heard that $10 billion for providers was spent on Warp Speed contracts until STAT’s reporting. Congress set aside that money to help health care providers pay for pandemic-related expenses including staffing, personal protective equipment, care for uninsured patients, and vaccine distribution. One of the top hospital lobbyists in D.C., who also did not know about the outlay, emphasized how much some hospitals still need the funding.

Operation Warp Speed was widely celebrated in the media as one of the great successes of the Trump Administration. On November 13, Reason declared

President Donald Trump stood in the Rose Garden at the White House this afternoon touting the truly amazing progress that Operation Warp Speed has made with respect to developing COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. Launched officially on May 15, 2020, the Trump administration deserves much credit for the successes of Operation Warp Speed.

But as the AP observed in a fact check of the President's speech

Pfizer notably did not accept government money to develop, test or expand manufacturing capacity under Trump’s Operation Warp Speed initiative to quickly find a vaccine and treatments for the disease sweeping the country.

In fact, Pfizer partnered with the vaccine’s original developer, Germany’s BioNTech, in March and the following month announced the first human study in Germany. The White House announced Operation Warp Speed in May.

Nonetheless, the propaganda from Reason and other portions of the media would have been politically crucial had Pfizer and BioNTech announced "evidence of efficacy" of its Covid-19 vaccine before a majority of the votes were cast in the last election cycle, rather than on November 9.

It's likely that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense were manipulating levers of government to enhance the possibility of an announcement of a viable vaccine before the presidential election.  Had that ensued, the impact of the propaganda from Reason and elsewhere would have had a much greater impact.

As Senator Warren summarized, the Department of Defense has been opaque.  The Department of Health and Human Services was sneaky, sleazy, and dishonest with the $10 billion they kept from health care providers. Fortunately, their timing was off and, probably as a consequence, we're not now six weeks into a second Trump term.

No comments:

On a Positive Note, It's What He Believes

During the War of 1812, Master Commandant Oliver Perry wrote to Major General William Henry Harrison " we have met the enemy and they ...