The good news is that he was on message this afternoon, properly keeping the focus on the amazing vaccine breakthrough from Pfizer earlier this week. And he’s fully entitled to take a bow for the role of Operation Warp Speed in accelerating vaccine production. Although that program didn’t provide research money to Pfizer, it did pledge nearly $2 billion to purchase 100 million doses of the company’s product. And of course it also provided research money to other biotech firms working on vaccines right now, any one of which might prove more effective than Pfizer’s and could potentially be easier to distribute. (Pfizer’s product requires two doses and needs to remain in a deep freeze before being administered.)
Without question, Operation Warp Speed is Trump’s biggest pandemic-related success. He deserves a victory lap for it. And for once he didn’t foolishly step on his point by ranting about Dominion software or the “medical deep state” or whatever.
The part of his remarks that’s getting the most buzz, though, is this short bit when he seemed to come shockingly close to acknowledging Biden’s victory. My administration won’t order another lockdown, he says, and hopefully the, uhhhhh…
…”Biden administration won’t order one either”? I think that’s where he was headed. But he steered away from a crash just in time.
Trump: This Administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the uhh whatever happens in the future who knows which Administration will be, time will tell pic.twitter.com/q2GwwHHAYO
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) November 13, 2020
The Biden administration will not, in fact, be ordering a lockdown either. That’s mainly because they lack the legal authority to do so; governors, not the president, exercise “police powers” related to public health. But Team Joe also seems to grasp that a sustained lockdown would be both widely unpopular and economically ruinous, which is why they’re running away today from what Biden science advisor Michael Osterholm said recently about needing to lock down for four to six weeks. Even Osterholm is backing off of that, in fact.
While speaking to NBC News on Thursday, he clarified his comments saying “it was not a recommendation. I have never made this recommendation to Biden’s group. We’ve never talked about it.”…
Two fellow members of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, Dr. Celine Gounder and Dr. Vivek Murthy expressed opposing views to Osterholm’s comments on Friday.
While speaking with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Gounder said, “As a group, really the consensus is that we need a more nuanced approach,” while noting that a nationwide lockdown is “not the opinion” of the advisory board…
Murthy, who previously served as a U.S. Surgeon General, spoke to ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday and made similar comments, saying, “We’re not in a place where we’re saying, shut the whole country down.”
Murthy added, “The way we should be thinking about this is more like a series of restrictions that we dial up or down depending on how bad the spread is taking place in a specific region.”
Here’s the real news from today’s presser from the head of Warp Speed. Twenty million Americans vaccinated — next month? Hopefully:
Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, said today that Covid-19 vaccinations are likely to start in December with 20 million doses pic.twitter.com/NcgJpX9516
— POLITICO (@politico) November 13, 2020
God willing that’ll happen, and if it does it would cover every doctor and nurse in the U.S. with plenty left over for front-line workers and other vulnerable people. A lot of chains of transmission that would otherwise kill people in January and February will start breaking if that vaccine rolls out in December. But we shouldn’t get our hopes up too high. Distribution will take time, especially given the complications presented by the cold storage needed for Pfizer’s vaccine. If two doses a month apart are required, that means very few people will have been fully immunized by New Year’s. And for what it’s worth, Pfizer announced on Monday that “Based on current projections we expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.” If they’ll have 50 million doses by year’s end, that’ll mean 25 million people in all can be fully vaccinated; and if that’s their target *globally* then it means not all of them will be Americans. I think the claim of vaccinating 20 million Americans depends on Pfizer *and* Moderna having their vaccines approved soon, with some people getting the first company’s product and some getting the second’s. Here’s hoping.