The vaccine rollout has been a disappointment to many of us, though not a surprise, it's safe to say, being that the previous administration made clear that it was basically “every state for themself” when it came to fighting the pandemic.
The U.S. authorized two vaccines, one from Pfizer, which got the FDA go ahead Dec. 11, and one from Moderna (FDA-embraced on Dec. 18), both touting a roughly 95% effectiveness rate in protecting against the vicious immune system attacker.
“We plan to have enough vaccine doses available for use in the US population to immunize about 20 million individuals in the month of December and another 25 to 30 million per month on an ongoing basis,” Operation Warp Speed chief adviser Moncef Slaoui said at the White House on Nov. 14 “As of the month February or March, if we have more vaccine approved…we may be able to immunize a larger number of Americans on an ongoing basis per month.” Slaoui had a track record of being too enthusiastic with his projections, “I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine,” Slaoui said in May 2020, “and this data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020.”
And no, it will never be possible to know the scale of the damage done by Donald Trump when he'd say things like this, at an Oct. 26 rally in Pennsylvania: “We will deliver 100 million doses of a safe vaccine before the end of the year, and maybe quite a bit sooner than that.” How many people exhaled in relief, and figured they'd not have to play the long game of social distancing and face shield usage, and thus didn't respect the power of the virus as they should've?
That booming thudding sound accompanied by a breaking glass sound wasn't the ball drop in NYC—by new years day, just 3.5 million people had been vaccinated (or got at least one of the two shots needed to get a “full” vaccine dose).
Any adult even half paying attention understands that coronavirus became a political thing, as much and sometimes more than a public health matter the second it started getting roots down in America.
Now, even the most vehement anti Trump critic shouldn't lump every bit of blame on the twice-impeached Florida resident, who encouraged the invasion of the Capitol building Jan. 6 because he couldn't believe he lost the Nov. 3 runoff with 78 year old Joseph Biden, for the lack of success in pumping the vaccine into willing Americans. Blame can be spread, to, for example, those in Congress who thought it appropriate to pursue frugality while discussions of pandemic relief funding played out in the last seven or so months. Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease at the Minnesota department of health, told Time magazine, “We got an amazing vaccine, the Cadillac of vaccines, and yet we’re skimping on resources for getting it out.” New funding to support state COVID-19 programs was authorized only at the end of 2020, and that hampered planning and execution for the hardcore mass vaccination effort.
And not as many gold stars as you'd hope will be distributed when we look back and opine on who stepped up and succeeded and who receded, to state leaders all over the map. The Center for Disease Control put out on Jan. 19 data that showed about 15.7 million doses of the vaccine had been administered, out of 31.1 million vials of hope delivered to the states. No, that cannot and should not reflexively be blamed on Trump. So many of our “systems” had gone rusty and rickety and warped in the last 40 years or so.
All around the country, vaccinators sometimes worked so hard to be “fair” that efficiency toward that goal led to lots of vials being wasted, and thrown away. If someone had an appointment, and didn't show, a sub wasn't found, because people needed to jump through an obstacle course of questions and answering to be deemed acceptable to receive the shot.
Our own Governor in NY, Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, did he always use his time judiciously in combatting the pandemic in February onward, or were there hours he spent doing media hits, writing his book, supporting a sales push for that book, which he could've used to better effect?
Biden took over the commander in chief slot from Trump at 12 noon ET on Wednesday. On Dec. 8, while Trump likely spent the day watching cable news and scarfing cheeseburgers while barking at the idiot box, angry that his attempt to get electors to ignore the collective will of regions that went Dem wasn't working, Biden promised his version of a “moon shot.
“This team,” the Delaware/DC resident said of his choices to take positions of power overseeing public health, “will help get…at least 100 million COVID vaccine shots into the arms of the American people in the first 100 days.”
It will be a tall task, made harder by stone-throwers critiquing his results, the very same people who had zipped lips while Trump spent almost all his time running for re-election, and virtually ignored COVID after he himself contracted the virus and was able to keep it from over-taking his 300 pound bodily vessel.
“This team” won't include Health and Human Services boss Alex Azar, who on Tuesday, Jan. 12 said Uncle Sam would be “releasing the entire supply for order by states, rather than holding second doses in reserve….We are making the full reserve of doses available.” By Friday, Jan. 15, he was forced to give an update, because around the country, officials in state after state realized their requests for a vaccine infusion were not being fulfilled. “There's not a reserve stockpile,” Azar admitted, one day before tendering his resignation, effective Jan. 20. “We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people, so we're not sitting on a reserve anymore.”
You all have probably heard stories, maybe from friends or family members, who were disappointed, because they'd booked an appointment to get a vaccine shot, and then received a follow up message, telling them their appointment was cancelled, because no vaccine was available.
It's a shame, because the tide is perhaps turning, against the anti-vaxxer set who swear that they don't trust the man, and will not be rolling up their sleeves to receive two shots, weeks apart, which could be up to 95% effective in keeping a person from being hit by the COVID sledge-hammer. “Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19,” reads a note on the CDC site. But Dr. Fauci said in March not to wear a face mask, that's their stock answer when expressing negativity about the legitimacy of vaccines or face coverings.
The all-time living legend George Foreman showed no hesitance about rolling up his sleeve and getting a dose of the biological preparation which was formulated to stimulate the body's immune system to recognize a threat agent and start producing counter-punching antibodies.
The Texas resident Foreman is old enough to know that smallpox, polio, measles, and tetanus didn't just go away, vaccine campaigns were wickedly effective. This man born in 1949 is not like the guy in the convenient store I had the testy exchange with a couple weeks ago who told me he didn't think face shields were effective, because his intuition tells him the virus particles are all so small that they can make their way through whatever you put over your mouth and nose. “I should believe you, over scientists?” I asked him. Yes, he said. The owner of the store got nervous, thinking a rumble would soon start, and he told the guy to mask up, and shut up. (This Wall Street Journal story recommends you listen to scientists and researchers, not Convenient Store Charlies. If you don't believe that clip because Rupert Murdoch owns the paper, here's a similar takeaway from researchers at Florida Atlantic University. And here's a link to a study from a doctor in Beijing who found face covering usage really effective in houses where someone had COVID, before they started showing symptoms.)
On Jan. 19, Big George beamed that million watt grin in a picture when he Tweeted out to his almost 200,000 followers,”We should do everything possible to get the vaccine. When I received my shot, there were 400 ahead of me. Not one a celebrity. I just wanted to point to the truth of it being safe. I feel great by the way.”
Yes, he showed admirable leadership skills in sharing his willingness to trust in science. I messaged him shortly after, and checked in. He was still feeling great.
“I've been taking vaccines since age 5 or 6,” said the Hall of Famer who went 76-5 in separate stints as a heavyweight pro (1969-1977 and 1987-1997). “We had to line up like soldiers just to get in school. Every few months I’d be out there screaming for fear of the needle. Surely it’s the cause of my long life today. Why would I get to be old and then be scared of a new vaccine? The Olympics, Asian tours, even needed one to be kayoed in Africa,” he said, with typical good humor, referencing his 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle.' “Yes, it’s been a life vaccinations. My hope is to be in line for AIDS and cancer vaccines.”
No need to believe me, I tilt towards over zealous in some of my stances. Irish blood I can blame it on, I get feisty and my stridency annoys even me, every so often. But gosh, listen to, learn from, and believe Big George.
His track record shows that he seeks to find a center line, of reasonableness. Spurn my vinegar-soaked diatribery, by all means, but take a serving of honey from George.
Yeah, this Biden crew will get those vaccines doses rolling out and distributed in competent fashion with a month or so.
When that happens, be like George..go and roll up that sleeve, and have faith in men and women in white coats who worked their asses off, and whose discoveries will save millions of lives.