The White House Prepared for a Pandemic

Source (behind paywall): Wall Street Journal.

That the Trump administration did little or nothing to prepare for the Covid-19 pandemic is a recurring and false criticism. Commentary in today’s Wall Street Journal describes proactive measures the administration took to prepare for vaccine development months before the Wuhan virus became known.

To overcome the problem of under-investment in rapidly produced vaccines, [the president’s Council of Economic Advisors] proposed public investment in public-private research-and-development partnerships to promote vaccine innovation (“push” incentives) and preferential government purchase of vaccines produced domestically from those partnerships (“pull” incentives). On Sept. 19, a few days after the CEA issued its report, the president signed Executive Order 13887, which created several initiatives to modernize flu-vaccine production, including evaluation of “incentives for the development and production of vaccines by private manufacturers and public-private partnerships.”

The report and the order focused on improving vaccine production for influenza; a novel virus is a surprise by definition. Yet when Covid-19 appeared a few months later, the administration expeditiously applied the report’s lessons on the value of public-private partnerships to speed vaccine innovation and production. On March 30, less than three weeks after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, the federal government began investing with private vaccine developers. Operation Warp Speed provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and a partnership between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to develop vaccines and provide 100 million doses by January 2021 of each one that is approved, which the government will distribute free of charge. Similar arrangements were made later with Novarex, partners Pfizer and BioNTech, and partners Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline. Contracts have also been signed to step up manufacturing of vaccine vials and syringes.

Considering that vaccines are the single most powerful intervention the public health system can bring to bear in a pandemic, I’d say the anti-Trump criticism is debunked.

20 thoughts on “The White House Prepared for a Pandemic

  1. ” I’d say the anti-Trump criticism is debunked.”

    Of course you do.

    But that does not change fact that the administration dithered on the DPA for production of PPE.
    Or that the President said numerous times the pandemic was under control or that the virus would “magically disappear”.

    No, the criticisms are legitimate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The issue at hand concerns the administration’s preparations before the pandemic occurred.The myth is that the administration ignored the known risk. The truth is the administration took steps to mitigate the risk even before people were talking about it.


      1. “The truth is the administration took steps to mitigate the risk even before people were talking about it.”

        There is almost ZERO truth to what is said. Ignorance may be bliss, but in this instance it is dangerous.

        Len pretty much nails it (again!).

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Not them; you. Ignoring the dithering by saying that he signed an EO to produce a FLU vaccine and that was satisfactory for preparing for something he knew nothing about yet. Three years to verify PPE supplies and nothing was done.

            Liked by 1 person

      1. Not completely accurate.

        …”the new executive order does not so much directly invoke the DPA as it creates the conditions under which the administration can later employ its authorities. Essentially, it classifies health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19 in a way that authorizes the administration to later have private businesses prioritize government contracts over other contracts. The order also delegates broad authority to the secretary of health and human services (HHS) to later employ certain powers of the DPA.”

        So even according to your own source, he did NOT invoke the DPA, just put it in play when he thought it necessary. I’m not sure he has gotten to that point.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The Chinese released the RNA for COVID in early January. Pandemic warnings were in the daily briefings.

    Why wait 3 months to get the ball rolling? Or to check the status of PPE’s?

    We already had responded to several flu epidemics and Ebola in the last decade or so, so preparedness was not a new thing. Any administration would know the status of our supplies since 2017 and certainly should have by a couple of years in.

    The response was like waiting until the water reached the gunwales then discovering that your bailing pumps are broken and the flares are wet.

    The criticism of the administration is not that it did nothing. Just not in any kind of a remotely timely fashion. Even Trump said he knew it was a pandemic all along. But why not work hard to get ready if that were true? It could be done without fanfare if panic was a concern.

    Of course #LIBERATE, mocking masks, hoping for warm weather, forcing states to bid against each other for supplies at 10 times the cost, staging a panic for Americans to return from Europe without any preparation whatsoever, etc., all exacerbated the situation.

    Any administration can make mistakes. But the Keystone Kops approach has been devastating.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “Why wait 3 months to get the ball rolling?”

      What are you talking about? The CEA report came out in September of 2019. The president signed an EO implementing the recommendations a few days later. Federal vaccine investments began less than three weeks after WHO declared the pandemic (that’s record speed for acquisitions).

      You are trying to paint a fantasy picture.


        1. RE: “Um, yes to flu, not really on COVID-19.”

          The CEA report concerned vaccine development. What difference does it make whether the vaccine is for flu or some other virus? You are grasping at straws that don’t exist.


      1. They have to paint a fantasy picture. Their party has absolutely nothing to offer that the American people want, so unless they can create the illusion that some other President would have done better using the same information, they have no reason to ask anyone to vote for Biden.

        Were it not for the partisan press furthering their fantasy, they would have had to concede the election already.


        1. “Their party has absolutely nothing to offer”…

          Please tell me Trump is offering except more lies, chaos and basic third grade bullshit for his second term. He can’t even define it himself.

          I’ll take the alleged “nothing to offer” from Biden over the chaos and bullshit we have been fed for four years.

          And there is a lot more substance in Biden’s agenda then anything Trump can or will offer. All he and his minions are offering are personal attacks and more mumbo jumbo that a voodoo practice.

          “Were it not for the partisan press furthering their fantasy, they would have had to concede the election already.”

          More Trumpian projection form someone who lost sight of his alleged Libertarian values.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Pardon me for asking the obvious, but what good is having systems ready to go, when the ignorant man in the Oval office calls the Covid-19 virus a hoax created by the Democrats?

        And, knowing how this guy (djt) toots his own horn loud as possible over the sun rising, why weren’t we hearing chatter from him daily once he actually did accept that a real pandemic (not a hoax) was ravaging the USA?

        Sorry, but your glee is undeserved.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. The Chinese released the genetic sequencing to the world January 11. Our own scientists noticed similarities to SARS.

        Whatever WHO said notwithstanding, scientists were already replicating and testing the virus with the assumption that it was human to human.

        Plus the president told us he knew long before any else that this was a pandemic. If true, (and he wouldn’t lie to the American people would he?) then why deny it until March?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Blame deflection (CDC, FDA, WHO); it’s all someone else’s fault. He didn’t know soon enough. But he told us he knew it was a pandemic before any body else. If that were true, how does he not respond and prepare for it?

          Yeah. That’s what I thought.


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