Friday, May 06, 2022

Misinformation about Trump is everywhere, subtle or blatant. All information has a bias.

 The first title on our book club list for 2022-2023 is "The Code Breaker; Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race," by Walter Isaacson, 2021.   Doudna is the co-founder of CRISPR — a technology that can edit or alter DNA and genetic traits.   It's our September selection  because it is a fat book about a complex topic and we'll need more time to read it. The author is a history professor, former CEO of the Aspen Institute (large Covid government grant; recently launched a disinformation program to fight "malicious actors"), advisory partner of Perella Weinberg Partners, chair of CNN and editor of Time.  In other words, a left of center academic. On page 1 of the introduction Issacson sets the stage as March 13, 2020 by saying the "government was fumbling its response to COVID." By this I assume he means the FDA, HHS, CDC and NIH with competing interests and miles of red tape.  Yet it was the  day after Jennifer Doudna had driven her son Andy a high school senior to Fresno on March 12 for a robot-building competition. This woman who was a gene-editing technology superstar at Berkeley was uneasy, given what we already knew about Covid, but not so alarmed she kept him home. Probably the smartest scientist alive.  But the government was fumbling? Is that true, or distain for President Trump's efforts--the man who closed travel with China on January 30, several weeks before the first death was recorded in Washington state (that date has been changed several times to other states). Let's review while we remember the scorn and insults from Democrats, even Biden and Harris denigrating the idea of such a vaccine BEFORE they took office and promoted it relentlessly.

"Former President Donald Trump formally announced Operation Warp Speed (OWS) on May 15, 2020. OWS was constituted as a projected $18 billion business-government-military partnership, charged to “produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.” No date was set for fulfilling the 300 million doses target, other than the understanding that it would be “accelerated” relative to conventional standards.

The most innovative feature of OWS was government purchases of large quantities of vaccine types undergoing clinical trials, irrespective of the outcome (such as $2 billion and $483 million in early purchases from Pfizer and Moderna, respectively).

OWS called for clinical trials, manufacturing, and logistics to be conducted on a parallel rather than a sequential basis. The pursuit of multiple vaccine types built redundancy into the program to insure as many approved vaccine types as possible. (Currently, 251 vaccines are in the process of development).

Some ten months later, the results of OWS are as follows:

On Dec. 11, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for emergency use authorization (EUA) a vaccine produced by Pfizer for “the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in individuals 16 years of age and older.” Approval of Moderna’s vaccine followed seven days later. The first Americans were vaccinated on Dec. 15, 2020, only four days after FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine. 
Consistent with OWS’s stated goal, some 50 million initial doses of approved COVID-19 vaccine were available on Jan. 31, 2021." The Hill, March 20, 2021
By anyone's measure of how the government gets around to cutting red tape and shipping money off to universities and corporations, that was beyond warp speed.  I know no one who could have accomplished this, yet Issacson dismisses his importance on the first page.  I'm sure Doudna was absolutely the right person in the right place at the right time, but without the $18 billion and a president who bullied, I doubt there would have been a vaccine in seven months. Universities live for government money. 

The index item, "Trump Administration" gets one reference, p. 411. Bill Clinton got  three. even Joe Biden got a mention. President Donald Trump, a huge cheerleader for the vaccine AND TREATMENTS, didn't get a single line in the index (and I assume in the book).  Now two years out and a year and a half of Joe Biden, we still have Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine, don't we?

Gene editing raises huge ethical questions.  I hope Issacson is the one to present the problem without relying too much on government control and "science." As we've learned the last 2 years, science is putty in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians. It's a game of winners and losers.   As of page one, I'm not impressed, but it's a very deep and detailed story. I'm sure I'll learn a lot.

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