The timing of the hastily arranged White House “vaccine summit” last Tuesday bewildered many invitees.
It was days before the authorization of the first coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech — and nearly a week before millions of vaccine doses would be loaded onto trucks bound for every state in the nation. Wouldn’t those milestones and the mass vaccination effort that followed be what the White House would want to spotlight?
That was not what the president was interested in. As it became clear that vaccines would be a shining success in an otherwise calamitous pandemic response, he wanted to make sure his administration — and specifically Operation Warp Speed, its initiative to speed vaccines — got credit for an unprecedented scientific achievement.
The Dec. 8 event began with a video that featured scientists and pundits warning that the administration’s goal of delivering a vaccine in less than a year was unrealistic. As music swelled to a crescendo, a narrator boasted about how it had in fact delivered that record achievement.
Trump then took the stage to tout his administration’s success. “You saw that very few people thought that this was possible,” he told a small assembled audience. “Of course, they’ll be saying now, ‘We always told you it was so.’”
“People that aren’t necessarily big fans of Donald Trump are saying, ‘Whether you like him or not, this is one of the greatest miracles in the history of modern-day medicine’ or any other medicine — any other age of medicine,” Trump added.
In fact, the lightning-fast development of two leading coronavirus vaccines happened both because of and despite Trump — perhaps the most anti-science president in modern history, who has previously flirted with anti-vaccine views and savaged those who cited scientific evidence to press for basic public health measures in response to the pandemic. [Continue reading…]