The introduction of the White House vaccine is being marred by confusion and false claims


Washington, the day President Trump triumphantly planned to announce the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine, began with a Senate hearing in which Republicans focused on hydroxychloroquine. This unbelievable anti-malarial drug Some of Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill continue to insist on effective treatment for the coronavirus. From here, the hearing led to (inaccurate) comparisons of COVID-19 to influenza-like comparisons and diatribiasis against social media.

The bloated morning affair served as the perfect appetizer for the main course of Trump’s theories of conspiracy over the presidential election, the ominous sign itself of the full political circumstance in which the coronavirus vaccine is distributed.

“You just have to look at the numbers,” Trump said Tuesday afternoon. He did not talk about how many Americans died (285,000) from COVID-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus, or about Americans who are expected to be vaccinated in the coming months (roughly December, according to administration forecasts), but the magnitude of an imagined victory in last month’s presidential election.

“Look at all the corruption,” he continued in his remarks to celebrate Operation Warp Speed, a public and private effort to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Trump also signed an enforcement order “to ensure that Americans have priority over COVID-19 vaccines developed in the U.S. or procured by the U.S. government”. The execution order seemed to be a repetition of the president’s “America’s First” message rather than a specific policy guideline, and earlier in the day the news was weakened that Britain had already begun vaccinating its citizens.

U.S. President Donald Trump will sign an executive order at a Warp Speed ​​Vaccination Summit at the White House in Washington, DC, USA on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.  (Al Drago / Bloomberg through Getty Images)
President Trump will sign an executive order signed at the White House in Washington on Tuesday at the vaccine summit. (Al Drago / Bloomberg through Getty Images)

When asked about the consequences of the execution order, Moncef Slaoui, who leads Operation Warp Speed, answered straightforwardly, “I literally don’t know.”

It was that kind of day.

Both at the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing and at the White House Vaccine Summit, Trump and his Republican allies at Capitol Hill sought to produce a coherent message about what the next stage in the fight against the pandemic would be. If Tuesday indicates it, this response remains unbroken, sometimes biased, and sometimes contrary to accepted science.

And that will likely remain the posture of the Republican Party if President-elect Joe Biden takes over the Oval Office on January 20th. Trump will almost certainly continue to be the GOP’s loudest voice, potentially undermining the new president’s efforts. public health course correction. Satisfying the democratic victories of Georgia’s two election elections in January, the Senate will remain under the control of the GOP during Biden’s first two terms, allowing lawmakers closely tied to Trump to set the agenda for the upper house.

Among these allies is Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and who held a hearing on Tuesday dedicated to the malicious promotion of coronavirus treatments and public safety measures that have been rendered unreliable.

Before the hearing, they were outraged because one of the witnesses had been nominated for Dr. Jane Orient, an outspoken critic of vaccinations.

Another witness was Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya, a Stanford person, co-author of a petition against closures, called the Great Barrington Declaration. Among the supporters of the much-criticized petition was Dr. Scott Atlas, Trump’s past coronavirus advisor.

Dr. Ashish Jha will be seen in Providence, RI on December 3, 2020.  He is one of the most cited experts in his field.  It made 40 media claims a day in the spring, but has since dropped to 15-20 a day.  (Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Dr. Ashish Jha, Providence, RI, on Thursday. (Jonathan Wiggs / the Boston Globe through Getty Images)

Prior to the hearing, a petition circulated by Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, condemned the proceedings.

“We cannot allow groups and individuals with unproven treatments to jeopardize advances in medicine,” Jha and co-signatories wrote, “including a fundamental commitment to accepting scientific data as a basis for clinical decision-making and public health.”

In his opening remarks, Johnson attacked Jha, saying the purpose of the hearing was not to discuss vaccinations, but to highlight the unusual therapeutic treatments for COVID-19. He pointed out that hydroxychloroquine would have been a “dream solution” that should have been pursued more aggressively in the early stages of a pandemic.

– Why didn’t we continue this? Johnson wondered. The answer is related to the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has found that hydroxychloroquine is not safe for coronavirus patients because it can cause heart problems. Johnson’s witnesses fiercely advertised ivermectin, which is used to treat heartworms in animals, on Tuesday morning. The FDA also says it should not be used to treat coronavirus.

President Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Witnesses swear by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Early Outpatient Care: COVID-19 Solution II.  An essential part of it, in the Dirksen Building, on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.  .  (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. through Getty Images)
President Ron Johnson at the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Tuesday. (Tom Williams / CQ name call via Getty Images)

Given that the federal government is uniformly focused on distributing the coronavirus vaccine that is being prepared, it is not clear why Johnson decided to hold a hearing on largely unreliable treatments and also aimed to use masks to slow the spread of the virus. The basis for initiating the president’s favorite grievances, Johnson recently held hearings on intelligence measures during the 2016 election.

At one point, Johnson echoed one of Trump’s first responses after the coronavirus first appeared in the United States in early 2020, saying that COVID-19 “is certainly worse than the flu; but there is that much worse?”

Some witnesses Johnson called to testify revealed that the coronavirus was actually much more severe than the flu. Johnson then tried to retract his claim.

Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Trump’s other loyalist, used his time to criticize social media firms for being classified as a “censor” of conservative thinking. Twitter and Facebook have prevented the sharing of false information about the coronavirus. In October, Twitter removed the message from Atlas, a White House consultant, because it misinterpreted the effectiveness of face masks. They and other social media companies have also tried to limit the spread of misinformation about the 2020 presidential election, including by the president himself.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) will speak on the third day of the affirmative hearing of Supreme Court Candidate Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on October 14, 2020.  (Ken Cedeno / Pool via Reuters)
Senator Josh Hawley on Capitol Hill in Washington on October 14th. (Ken Cedeno / Pool / Reuters)

The conspiracies over the coronavirus and the presidential election have merged and pose a unique challenge to both democracy and public health. Trump himself is a former vaccination skeptic. A senior administration official told reporters Monday night that it has not yet been determined whether the president will take the coronavirus vaccine. The official seemed to suggest that since Trump had already been infected with COVID-19 and presumably had antibodies to the pathogen, he might not rush to vaccinate.

A spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence did not reveal what his vaccination plans were.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush have all agreed to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, potentially on live television. But since many Americans have confidence in Trump in treating the coronavirus, it is unclear whether he, too, would contribute to strengthening public confidence.

The goal of Tuesday’s summit in the White House was to prepare the country for the introduction of the vaccine, which is expected to begin in a few days. But both Pfizer and Moderna, the leading manufacturers of the coronavirus vaccine, have decided not to send representatives to Washington for the event.

Participants included Florida Republican governors Ron DeSantis and Texas Greg Abbott. They are both close allies of the president, but have been harshly criticized for their responses to the pandemic. A senior administrative official who spoke to reporters on Monday told Yahoo News that they were chosen – along with John Bel Edward of Louisiana and Bill Lee of Tennessee – because these states were judged with the most comprehensive vaccine distribution plans. .

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) wipes his nose before taking a seat at the Warp Speed ​​Vaccine Summit at the White House in Washington, DC, on December 8, 2020.  (Tom Brenner / Reuters)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at the vaccination summit at the White House on Tuesday. (Tom Brenner / Reuters)

But given the unpopularity of Abbott, and DeSantis in particular, with people outside Trump’s political base, it is unclear how their participation could inspire confidence in the coronavirus vaccine. The fact that Florida law enforcement officers raided a coronavirus reporter’s home with a gun Monday night is unlikely to confirm DeSantis’ credibility outside the Trump movement.

When asked by Peter Alexander, NBC News, why the incoming Biden administration was not present at the vaccination incident, Trump said he “should look out for the next administration”. He then embarked on a false debate about how he won the election and called on “courageous” judges and lawmakers to take his case.

A few hours after Trump’s speech, the U.S. Supreme Court declined a trial of his supporters to question the results in Pennsylvania. Since the election, Trump has paid considerable attention to this and other legal challenges, even as the coronavirus continues to infect and kill a record number of Americans.

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