“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has positioned himself as more than a Republican, but as a true conservative. It was with that framing that the leader of the Lone Star State signed a law to ban private businesses from setting their own terms of service when it comes to helping customers.
“Texas is open 100 percent,” Abbott said in a clip posted to Twitter. “And we want to make sure that you have the freedom to go where you want without limits.”
He will not extend that same freedom of association to individual actors who have their own enterprises. “The Texas legislature passed a law that I am about to sign that prohibits vaccine passports in Texas,” he added. “No business or government entity can require a person to provide a vaccine passport, or any other vaccine information, as a condition of receiving any service, or entering any place.””
“The Texas bill “violates private property rights,” says Timothy Sandefur, vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute. “The longstanding legal tradition has always been that businesses owe an obligation to protect their customers’ safety, at least to some basic extent, and this law comes along and says, not only are they not free to make that choice, but they’re prohibited from doing so.”
The legislation uses several different state levers to strong-arm businesses into compliance. It weaponizes governmental occupational licensing requirements—something Abbott has rightly railed against in other contexts—and threatens to withhold “a license, permit, or other state authorization necessary for conducting business in this state” should a company run afoul of the law.
Perhaps more notably, it also precludes any entity that disobeys from “receiv[ing] a grant or enter[ing] into a contract payable with state funds.”
Yet it was Abbott who applied the exact opposite justification when he (again, rightly) signed a law that allowed taxpayer-funded faith-based adoption agencies to operate within their belief systems when pairing children with prospective parents. The difference here: One comports with his personal values, and the other—vaccine verification—does not.”
“”It cannot be rationally justified,” adds Sandefur. “It’s simply a matter of people saying that the government shouldn’t force people to do things they don’t like and should force people to do things they do like. It’s totally inconsistent, and a violation of basic property rights and constitutional law.””
“The vaccines that millions of Americans receive every day are the result of a global system of research, development, manufacturing, and trade. Forcing those networks to be concentrated within the United States wouldn’t make those supply chains more robust, but would leave Americans vulnerable to the accountability problems that seem endemic to federal government contracting.”
” It’s true, of course, that the federal government paid billions of dollars to Pfizer and other vaccine manufacturers in the form of advance-purchase agreements last year. But that’s a different situation—one that effectively promised prize money but still put the onus on private companies to deliver vaccines that worked. While certainly not an ideal arrangement from a libertarian point of view, it’s far better than an industrial policy that directs public funds to companies that hire the best lobbyists.”
“Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a pause in distributing the vaccine after six reported cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST). These clots block blood flowing out of the brain and can quickly turn deadly.
The complications were found in women between the ages of 18 and 48, and they arose between six and 13 days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “Of the clots seen in the United States, one case was fatal, and one patient is in critical condition,” said Peter Marks, the head of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, during a Tuesday press conference.”
“For regulators, the episode highlights the tricky challenge of balancing caution against an urgent need for a vaccine in a still-raging pandemic. And as they investigate the problem, they also have to try to maintain public confidence in the vaccination program. The pause helps show that regulators are taking potential problems seriously, but if they botch the messaging, that could make people less likely to get vaccinated.”
“there are several factors that made regulators pay close attention to the recent cases following vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson shot. Marks explained that patients with these clots also had thrombocytopenia, a condition where platelets in the blood drop to very low levels, leading to bleeding and bruising. The combination of blood clots and low platelets means that patients cannot receive conventional blood clot therapies like heparin, a blood thinner. That’s why health officials want to wait to resume vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until they can investigate the concern and come up with new guidelines if necessary.
Another factor is that these cases occurred in younger women, who normally don’t face a high risk of these types of clots.”
“when vaccines make the jump from thousands of carefully screened trial participants to millions of people in the general population, rare problems — the one-in-a-million complications — start to emerge.”
“Regulators could, then, take a similar approach with the Johnson & Johnson shot to the one they used for allergies and the mRNA vaccines, adding a screening criterion for people at highest risk of these blood clots before they receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”
“Inside warehouses in Ohio and Maryland, tens of millions of doses of vaccines that could be used to help end the COVID-19 pandemic are stuck in limbo. They haven’t been approved for Americans to receive, but the White House is refusing to allow them to be shipped elsewhere in the world—to countries where they would be used immediately.
It’s a frustrating mix of two problems that have plagued the global response to the pandemic: bureaucracy and nationalism.
The United States has already purchased tens of millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved that vaccine for use alongside the vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. But the vaccine has been approved by the public health authorities in more than 70 other countries—including Brazil, where a major outbreak is threatening to overwhelm the country’s hospital system, and the European Union.
The New York Times reports that the Biden administration is refusing to allow America’s unused doses of the vaccine to be shipped overseas, despite requests from foreign governments and AstraZeneca itself. The company has pledged to replace any donated doses of the vaccine once FDA approval has been granted, according to the Times.
This is nearly indefensible. On the long list of ways that the government has screwed up the COVID-19 response, hoarding lifesaving vaccines that it won’t allow to be used deserves a place at or near the very top.”
“What the 95 percent figure really means here is that vaccinated people in the clinical trials had a 95 percent lower risk of getting COVID-19 compared with the unvaccinated control group participants. That means that vaccinated people were 20 times less likely than the control group to get COVID-19.”
” There is even more good news about COVID-19 vaccine efficacy. As LiveScience reports, the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson clinical trials all found that their vaccines were essentially 100 percent effective in preventing severe disease six to seven weeks after trial participants had received a first/single dose. As biotech journalist Anna Nowogrodzki notes, “Zero vaccinated people in any of the trials were hospitalized or died of COVID-19 after the vaccines had fully taken effect.” Now that’s the kind of vaccine efficacy that we can all cheer.”
“In the U.S., a botched and politicized COVID-19 vaccine distribution process seems to be fueling a black market in vaccines.
Anyone with knowledge of their fellow humans could have seen this coming. Limited supplies and controlled distribution of a product in high demand incentivize people to jump the line, or to make money by offering to help others do so.
“There absolutely will be a black market,” New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan commented at the beginning of December. “Anything that’s seen as lifesaving, life-preserving, and that’s in short supply creates black markets.””
“In the end, federal promises of 20 million vaccinations administered by the end of the year were off by a lot, with the actual number just over 2 million.”
“Cochrane believes governments should have got out of the way of companies that could have sold people what they need to deal with the pandemic, including vaccines. “The government could buy too,” he offers, but “allowing the vaccine to go to the highest bidders—and allowing people to get it at CVS or administer it themselves—would have rolled vaccines out much faster.””
“It’s great to have highly effective vaccines, but as the researchers observe, “How well a vaccine program ‘works’ will also depend on how quickly it can be manufactured, how efficiently it can be distributed to locations in greatest need, how persuasive health messaging can be in promoting public acceptance, and how consistently the public can adhere to the many complementary prevention strategies (e.g., masks, hand-washing, distancing) to limit the spread of the virus.”
“the biggest payoff for Operation Warp Speed could be the rapid deployment of a vaccine once one is approved. The upfront investment for drug companies to produce vaccine doses without knowing whether they will ever be used is the kind of thing the federal government is best positioned to do. Risk-averse pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t ordinarily spend hundreds of millions of dollars in that way otherwise.
“We want to make it worthwhile for these companies to do that under these conditions of uncertainty,” Sachs said.
Warp Speed has become in effect a military operation, with a STAT report on its organizational structure revealing that the military personnel working on the project actually outnumber the civilians. The military has flown equipment and raw materials around the world to manufacturing centers, and it will likely play a central role in vaccine distribution. Even Joe Biden has compared that process to a large-scale military operation.”
“Not only have Trump’s public comments and this lack of coordination hindered the project, but the administration’s singular focus on Warp Speed has arguably led to other parts of the US pandemic response being undermined.
As Bloomberg reported in late September, the Trump administration has redirected about $6 billion in federal funding meant for the National Strategic Stockpile to Operation Warp Speed, even though protective equipment shortages persist. And about $1 billion in CDC funding, which otherwise would have been sent to state and local health agencies, was also steered to the project, according to Bloomberg.”
“The two scientists from the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development had developed the vaccine against another coronavirus, SARS — but that epidemic ended before their vaccine was ready. And once the crisis was over, most of their funding dried up.”
“That was a big missed opportunity. They and other scientists say SARS should have been seen as a coronavirus warning shot, not an isolated outbreak, and it should have triggered federal investments like the billions sunk into flu vaccines a decade or so earlier. They want the federal government to act rapidly now to declare a public health emergency, get a vaccine developed, have it approved by the FDA and ready to slow the Wuhan virus’ march across China and globe.
Based on past experience, though, the chances of all that falling into place fast enough to turn the tide aren’t great, many scientists say.”