Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Vaccine Politics

On May 14, former President Donald J. Trump

released a wordy statement that read: “Isn’t it incredible that because of the vaccines, which I and my Administration came up with years ahead of schedule (despite the fact that everybody, including Fauci, said would never happen), that we no longer need masks, and yet our names are not even mentioned in what everybody is calling the modern day miracle of the vaccines?”

Later in the statement, he made a straight-up plea: “Just a mention please! The Biden Administration had zero to do with it.”

The New York Times has mentioned it, with a reporter in mid- December conceding "helping speed the development of a coronavirus vaccine may be one of Mr. Trump’s proudest accomplishments...."

Given that whatever accomplishment Trump-Kushner may have claimed in the Middle East has now blown up in Joe Biden's face, "one of Mr. Trump's proudest accomplishments" sets the bar extremely low. Still, the 45th President probably deserves at least a little credit for encouraging drug companies to develop the vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.

However, if Trump is to be credited at all with that, a full examination of the former President's pitiful- nay destructive- approach to the pandemic should be made. Ironically, we get a little closer to that if we take the advice of Representative Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin.

Appearing with Saagar Enjeti on The Hill's "Rising" on Friday, Gallagher referred to the interrogation of Dr. Anthony Fauci by Senator Rand Paul in a committee hearing and remarked

Fauci admitted yesterday that they don't have a full understanding of everything that was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Viroogy... We want to know what the heck happened if for no other reason than we want to prevent this from happening again. If we can't get to the origin, we'll never be able to prevent the next pandemic.

Gallagher's aim appears to be an investigation into whether SARS-CoV-2 originated in the Wuhan wet market or in the lab in the city. He continued

.... we had nominated some Americans to be on the WHO investigation and what happened is effectively the Chinese Communist Party vetoed that and they allowed one American- a dual American-British citizen, Peter Daszak, to be on the WHO team.

Daszak, as hasd been suggested here before, clearly has a conflict of interest because he

has built his entire professional career around promoting gain-of-function research and the ECO Alliance (which he headed) was doing work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

It's neither paranoid nor racist to suggest that, just maybe, Beijing lurks behind the curtain. Gallagher added

The Biden Administration came in and they didn't contradict the information that the Trump Administration released in January, which said that workers at the Wuhan Institue got sick prior to the broader outbreadk, which would be more evidence in suppotr of the lab leak. So the incoming Adminsistration has said actually there's something here but what they haven't done is they haven't been willing to declassify all the intelligence and that's what I think neesds to happen. We need to know what happened with these workers at the lab. They need to be transparent, forthcoming, and if they're holding that back just because they don't want to get in trouble with the CCP or screw up some broader negotiation that's happening on climate change, well, that would be short-sighted in my opinion.

Determining the origin of the coronavirus is important not only to hold accountable whomever may be responsible. American tax dollars and the focus of reseacrch are at stake. Gallagher continued

About 200 million dollars in American grants went towards gain-of-function research. Well, now, there's something called the Global Virome Project that wants to 6X that with a 1.2 billion dolllar investment in gain-of-function research. So we now face this really important question as to whether we're going to increase the amount of money we're spending on research when we have evidence suggesting that maybe it was this exact type of research that played a role in causing the pandemic.

The comments from the conservative Republican congressman then took a slightly surprising twist as he remarked

It would be insane to dramatically increase the amount of funding that's going toward this type of research, which even the Obama Administration shut down because of the risks involved.

Thank you, Congressman! The Obama Administration did in fact shut down this approach. However, on December 19, 2017

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today lifted a 3-year moratorium on funding gain-of-function (GOF) research on potential pandemic viruses such as avian flu, SARS, and MERS, opening the door for certain types of research to resume.

The action coincides with today's release of a US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) framework for guiding funding decisions about proposed research involving pathogens that have enhanced potential for creating pandemics.

The gain-of-function research which may have led to the coronavirus being unleashed was approved in the Trump Administration. So let's find out if it escaped from the lab or from a wet market, which was the company line propagated to quell concerns about Beijing. And then we also can determine how much credit President Trump deserves for development of the vaccine(s) and how much blame for promoting its spread. Fair is fair.


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