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Tipsheet

Biden Moneypox Scandal: 'People are Begging for Vaccines, and We’ve Just Pissed Off the One Manufacturer'

We have been on this issue for a number of weeks now, chronicling the mess that the Biden administration has made of its Monkeypox response.  While some public health officials have spent much of the outbreak hand-wringing about what to call the disease, avoiding "stigma," and ludicrously woke messaging, the government has face-planted on vaccine procurement and distribution.  We've noted the severe vaccine shortage, which is overwhelmingly impacting gay and bisexual men, no matter how some people try to talk around that fact.  That shortage has been caused, or at least seriously exacerbated, by abject failures of government.  Click through and read.  We've also noted that the 'vaccine cliff' is so serious, the administration cooked up a new plan to available split doses into fifths, then deliver the 80-percent-reduced doses differently.

Administration figures insist this will be safe and effective, but experts are split, and the vaccine manufacturer warned that there's no solid data to support the new, on-the-fly plan. The Washington Post admitted the obvious, calling it a "large scale, real-time experiment" on American citizens.  For raising valid concerns over lack of data, the vaccine manufacturer was rewarded by Biden sources whispering to journalists that perhaps they are just greedy and worried about profits.  The dysfunction has escalated:

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After Health and Human Services officials announced their proposal on Aug. 4, Paul Chaplin, chief executive of Bavarian Nordic, the vaccine’s manufacturer, called a senior U.S. health official and accused the Biden administration of breaching its contracts with his company by planning to use the doses in an unapproved manner. Even worse, said two people with knowledge of the episode, Chaplin threatened to cancel all future vaccine orders from the United States, throwing into doubt the administration’s entire monkeypox strategy. “People are begging for monkeypox vaccines, and we’ve just pissed off the one manufacturer,” said one official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment. The behind-the-scenes clash with Bavarian Nordic, which has not previously been reported, was just the latest episode in a monkeypox response beset by turf wars, ongoing surprises and muddled messaging, with key partners frequently finding themselves out of sync as they race to catch up to a rapidly unfolding crisis....

Interviews with more than 40 officials working on the monkeypox response, outside advisers, public health experts and patients show that despite efforts to learn from the nation’s coronavirus failures, officials struggled to meet growing demand for testing, vaccines and treatments. Early mistakes, including the failure to recognize the virus was spreading differently and far more aggressively than it had previously, and a plodding bureaucracy left hundreds of thousands of gay men facing the threat of an agonizing illness that has not led to U.S. fatalities but can cause painful lesions some have likened to being pierced by shards of glass while going to the bathroom. And experts fear broader circulation of a virus that can infect anyone by close contact.

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Couple the errors and bureaucracy with dangerous, ill-timed denial:

As cases climbed in June, White House officials continued to assure the public that the situation was being handled. Pride Month festivities celebrating gay life went on as planned around the country, many for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. “We have tests for monkeypox, we have vaccines for monkeypox, and we have treatments for monkeypox,” Panjabi said in a news conference on June 10. “We have a multipronged approach to deploy those tools to ensure we’re fighting this outbreak as effectively as possible.” But physicians, experts and patients described a different picture: growing delays in trying to access tests and treatments — and little visible urgency to fix it.

In May, Biden himself assured Americans that the US government would "have enough [vaccines] to deal with" the problem.  Writer Josh Barro has seen enough, echoing a point I've been making about Biden's scandalously unfit and unqualified Health Secretary (confirmed by lock-step Senate Democrats) -- who was openly selected for 'diversity' reasons, as opposed to expertise or experience.  I've noted that such priorities for filling this particular position would be inexcusable even in 'normal' times; it was outrageously indefensible in the context of a deadly pandemic.  And now, a marginalized group of Americans is paying the price for the absolute mess this incompetent has created.  Barro says it's long past time for Xavier Becerra to go:

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Prior to being named HHS secretary, Becerra had been the attorney general of California. Before that, he had a long tenure in the House of Representatives, where he sat on the Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax laws. His health policy experience had consisted primarily of filing lawsuits to advance Democratic objectives related to the Affordable Care Act. He did not have relevant experience for overseeing agencies with public-health related missions like the CDC and the FDA, which is unfortunate, since that’s now his job. Becerra seems to have dealt with his managerial inexperience by not managing or coordinating the agencies under him...As monkeypox has come to the fore — and as the response to monkeypox has been hampered by late government action to obtain, approve, and disseminate vaccine that we had already purchased — the reviews of Becerra’s performance have not improved...

Why can’t Becerra be fired? Well, one major problem with firing him is the same reason he got the job: He meets the dual tests of being Hispanic and a former member of Congress. “Removing Becerra would likely draw the ire of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other grass-roots groups that pressed Biden to appoint more Latinos to his Cabinet,” WaPo noted in January. It is not an exaggeration to say that being a Hispanic ex-lawmaker is how Becerra got the HHS job. Biden hastily chose him, despite his manifest lack of relevant qualifications, in order to squelch a PR problem he was having during the transition: Hispanic politicians felt he was not appointing enough Hispanic politicians to senior executive branch positions...Xavier Becerra was given the top health care job in the Biden administration as a quick fix to a PR controversy about cabinet diversity during the transition...is outrageous that Becerra, who is doing an important job very badly, is being kept at HHS in order to meet a diversity goal. He should be fired immediately and replaced with somebody competent, because running government well is more important than making the Congressional Hispanic Caucus happy.
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Barro makes the important point that there were surely qualified Hispanics who could have been selected for this critical position, at such a crucial time. Team Biden couldn't be bothered. They grabbed the first 'LatinX' person they could think of, CV be damned, that would satisfy a small number of activists and angry Hill Democrats. And they made him Health Secretary during a pandemic. It's astonishing.  And despite him doing an objectively bad job, prompting leaks to media outlets for hit pieces, he remains on the job.  Accountability is a non-existent phenomenon inside Bidenworld.  No wonder Becerra's big plan on Monkeypox was to shift the blame:

As the Biden administration scrambled last month to defuse anger over its sluggish response to the monkeypox outbreak, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra floated an idea: Tell people the states need to do more. The federal government could only provide the tools and guidance needed to slow the disease’s spread, he told White House and health officials. It was up to the states to contain it, and the administration should make that clear. The idea caused immediate alarm, according to people familiar with the matter. The Biden administration would look like it was ducking responsibility for managing a growing health crisis, officials cautioned. On top of that, it could alienate state health departments that had been critical to the fight against the coronavirus — and would be necessary allies if the U.S. had any hope of stamping out monkeypox.  Despite the warnings, Becerra went out days later and made his case...Activists and public health experts who had spent weeks pressuring the administration to ramp up its response were incensed. State officials wondered if they were being set up as scapegoats...And inside the White House, the episode reinforced the belief that the Health secretary’s eagerness to pass the buck made him ill-suited to manage the health crises that have shaped President Joe Biden’s first term.
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Yet Becerra still has his powerful job, because repeated failures apparently represent the political cost of doing business in an administration gripped by the Left's identity cult.

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