Last week, we wrote about Monkeypox, 'stigma,' and the need for clear communication from public health officials, entirely divorced from political considerations. We linked to this infuriating story from early July, detailing how a large number of urgently-needed vaccine doses destined for the United States ended up languishing in Denmark, due to superfluous and redundant bureaucratic red tape. This is part of the backdrop to the current vaccine shortage:
A top Biden administration official tried to bat away mounting criticism from public health activists Thursday that the White House is letting red tape snarl delivery of 1 million monkeypox vaccine doses — which are currently stuck at the manufacturing plant in Denmark...The US government spent at least $2 billion developing and manufacturing the vaccine for the national stockpile, the June 28 letter states, but the Food and Drug Administration has refused to import the shots after it failed to inspect the plant — and then refused to accept the inspection results from European Union’s regulatory arm, which deemed the facility safe.
They spent billions of our dollars "developing and manufacturing" the vaccine, then secured a million doses for at-risk Americans. Then those doses just sat in some warehouse in Europe because our FDA bureaucrats couldn't get their act together to inspect the facility. And those same bureaucrats evidently decided that the EU vouching for the plant's safety (EU citizens are apparently getting these jabs) wasn't good enough. You know, paperwork, etc. And so here we are. Can you feel the competence?
Don’t expect America’s shortage of monkeypox vaccine to ease anytime soon. On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that there is currently only enough supply of the two-dose Jynneos monkeypox vaccine to fully vaccinate about a third of the gay and bisexual men in the U.S. who are considered highest risk for the virus. And more Jynneos doses aren’t expected to arrive in the U.S. until at least October, which experts fear may give the virus all the time it needs to become permanently established in the country. One federal official involved with the monkeypox response told the Post that the country may hit a “vaccine cliff” in a matter of weeks. The nationwide outbreak continues to grow, with the number of confirmed U.S. monkeypox cases now roughly doubling every seven to eight days. Public-health authorities have already begun to ration the Jynneos vaccine by withholding second doses in some of the country’s hardest hit communities. While both the vaccine manufacturer and the Food and Drug Administration recommend two doses at least four weeks apart, there’s some evidence that one dose may still provide meaningful protection, but one-shot efficacy hasn’t been studied in real-world scenarios yet.
Pitiful stuff, courtesy of the richest, most powerful government on earth. As I wrote last week, if it were a Republican administration presiding over this mess, (a) the scandal would be getting a lot more attention in general, and (b) these failures would be widely attributed to some combination of bigotry, malice and callousness. But hey, at least this administration projects rainbow lights onto the White House for Pride. Signaling versus results. Here's another string of new and maddening details, via the New York Times:
"The shortage of vaccines to combat a fast-growing monkeypox outbreak was caused in part because the Department of Health and Human Services failed early on to ask that bulk stocks of the vaccine it already owned be bottled for distribution"https://t.co/jzf24ZncMS— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) August 3, 2022
The shortage of vaccines to combat a fast-growing monkeypox outbreak was caused in part because the Department of Health and Human Services failed early on to ask that bulk stocks of the vaccine it already owned be bottled for distribution, according to multiple administration officials familiar with the matter. By the time the federal government placed its orders, the vaccine’s Denmark-based manufacturer, Bavarian Nordic, had booked other clients and was unable to do the work for months, officials said — even though the federal government had invested well over $1 billion in the vaccine’s development...To speed up deliveries, the government is scrambling to find another firm to take over some of the bottling, capping and labeling of frozen bulk vaccine that is being stored in large plastic bags at Bavarian Nordic’s headquarters outside Copenhagen. Because that final manufacturing phase, known as fill and finish, is highly specialized, experts estimate it will take another company at least three months to gear up...Health and Human Services officials so miscalculated the need that on May 23, they allowed Bavarian Nordic to deliver about 215,000 fully finished doses that the federal government had already bought to European countries instead of holding them for the United States.
Abject incompetence, actively harming and needlessly endangering Americans. Now seems like a good time to remind you that President Biden's Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary is Xavier Becerra -- a lawyer and career politician who came into the job with zero public health expertise or experience. Think about that. It would be outrageous and derelict under any circumstances, but that was Biden's pick in the middle of a lethal global pandemic that had already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. Why on earth was he selected? Identity politics and "diversity" pressure. Here's a CNBC report from late 2020:
Biden’s selection of Becerra, 62, comes amid calls from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for the president-elect to include more Hispanics among his Cabinet picks. Biden has made diversity a central value of his incoming administration, but has received criticism recently for not moving quickly enough to include people of color among top Cabinet picks. Becerra would be the first Latino to lead the department. The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic Americans...
That guy has a LatinX last name. Put him in there. What could go wrong? Woke activists prized "representation" over competence and expertise, and they got their pick. And Team Biden, obsessed with "historic" diversity, got the desired headlines from their news media allies. Approximately 400,000 Americans had died with or of COVID by the time Biden took office, armed with three vaccines developed under the Trump administration. Today, that figure stands at over one million. Do I lay the blame at the feet of Joe Biden and his woefully unqualified health minister? No. But I'm not Joe Biden:
Joe Biden on COVID-19: “220,000 Americans dead. If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this … anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” https://t.co/yithiuDMrP #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/CcREibHqaq— The View (@TheView) October 23, 2020
As for Becerra, he's occupied one political office or another since I was in kindergarten. One of his biggest legacies is fighting Catholic nuns in court, trying to force them to violate their religious beliefs by paying for contraceptives. He also eagerly led persecution efforts against pro-life organizations in California, abuses so egregious that the state got slapped down by the Supreme Court. A fanatically pro-abortion culture warrior from California with a box-checking surname? Those were all the 'qualifying credentials' this administration needed to hire him for one of the most important jobs in America. How's that working out for the country? Here's a flashback from January:
Frustrations with Health and Human Services chief Xavier Becerra’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic have grown to the point that one outside expert says the secretary must “step up or step aside” — and several Biden administration officials reportedly have made similar comments, albeit off the record. “He hasn’t shown up,” Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and a leading Covid analyst, tells the Washington Post in a lengthy piece detailing complaints, both inside and outside the Biden administration, about Becerra’s leadership. “An HHS secretary has so much authority and power to help. And we have no evidence that any of it is being exerted.” One unnamed senior administration official told the Post that Becerra “is taking too passive a role in what may be the most defining challenge to the administration,” and some administration officials have openly discussed who might do a better job at HHS, the Post’s Dan Diamond, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Tyler Pager report.
Six months later, Becerra is still just...there. The photo accompanying this piece depicts him standing behind the president as Biden signs an abortion-related order. How fitting. I'll leave you with my segment prosecuting this case on the radio: