In his November 29 Best of the Web column “Biden’s partisan pandemic history,” the Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman took up President Biden’s remarks the previous day on the Omicron variant (transcript here). Biden’s remarks implicitly trashed President Trump’s handling of the epidemic in a characteristically ungracious, ungrateful, and dishonest manner. I call it “The Biden variant.” Freeman writes in a more dispassionate spirit (links omitted):
At Monday’s [White House press] event the topic was Covid but unfortunately the Biden approach was the same [i.e., purveying “whoppers”]. “A year ago America was floundering against the first variant of Covid,” claimed Mr. Biden.
This new Biden claim is more a statement of opinion than an assertion of fact. But it still raises the question of how well the president has been keeping his aforementioned honesty pledge [“When I was elected I said I would always be honest with you”].
What exactly was happening one year ago? On Nov. 30, 2020, the Journal’s Peter Loftus reported:
Moderna Inc. said it asked U.S. and European health regulators Monday to authorize use of its Covid-19 vaccine, after it was shown to be 94.1% effective in a full analysis of a pivotal study.
The timing keeps the vaccine on track to become possibly the second to go into use in the U.S. by year’s end—after one already under regulatory review from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE —with inoculation available to the general public likely in spring or summer. Moderna said some doses also could become available in Europe in December…The progress is remarkably quick for vaccines, accomplishing in months what typically takes a decade.
Defying the predictions of people like Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci, the pharmaceutical industry, with a huge assist from the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, had just pulled off an enormous scientific triumph. The Trump effort yielded another holiday miracle in December by somehow motivating the bureaucrats at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve the vaccines for emergency use. Distribution then ramped up more quickly than many expected.
Unfortunately, even a year ago it was clear there would be some skepticism among potential recipients of the vaccines. Six days before the report from Mr. Loftus, the Journal’s Jimmy Vielkind reported:
Nearly a quarter of New Yorkers say they are unlikely to take a vaccine against the coronavirus when it becomes available, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Twenty-four percent of the 803 New York state voters surveyed by the Siena College Research Institute last week said they would either probably not or definitely not take a coronavirus vaccine if approved by the Food and Drug Administration…
Siena spokesman Steven Greenberg said the survey found support for the vaccine was “regardless of party, region, race, age, religion, gender, or even who they supported in the presidential election.”
Even after approval, mass distribution will take months. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in October that he expected people might be skeptical that FDA approvals could be influenced by President Trump, who has cheered the rapid deployment of a vaccine. The Democratic governor formed a panel of state experts to review any FDA determination, and he has criticized the Trump administration’s vaccine-distribution plans.
Unfortunately Mr. Cuomo wasn’t the only one who had been working to undermine public confidence in the vaccines. “Biden, Seizing on Worries of a Rushed Vaccine, Warns Trump Can’t Be Trusted,” announced a September New York Times headline. Sydney Ember reported:
With deaths from the coronavirus nearing 200,000 in the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday assailed President Trump for playing politics with a potential coronavirus vaccine, saying he did not trust Mr. Trump to determine when a vaccine was ready for Americans.
“Let me be clear: I trust vaccines,” Mr. Biden said. “I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump, and at this moment, the American people can’t either.”
Mr. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), had been sharing a similarly reckless message, including in a September interview with CNN’s Dana Bash [quotation omitted].
Let’s hope that Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris will make more-positive contributions to public health this year than they did last year.
For starters Mr. Biden should forget about more masks and mandates and demand that his FDA immediately approve what appears to be a highly effective Covid treatment–or clearly explain to the public why it won’t. Whether or not Mr. Biden can keep his honesty pledge, he can at least be held accountable.