I was disappointed with the president’s speech, but I’ll give him credit for some things. Stumble Joe came across as confident and focused in his message. He wants all Americans to get vaccinated, and that is a reasonable goal for a president to promote.
It is not, however, enough. The numbers show that vaccination for Covid-19 reduces the risk of hospitalization and death for individual patients. Public health policy must also address prevention and treatment. In an ideal world specific health policy should reflect a coherent theory of the disease. Stumble Joe’s address failed on all these measures.
The administration has continued stockpiling PPE and will add a few doctors and nurses to hospital staffs. That’s good. It will also distribute in-home Covid test kits. That’s probably good, but is more likely a waste. If the plan is to regulate our social behavior on the basis of self-administered home test kit results, we will need many multiples of the 500 million kits currently on order.
Finally, Stumble Joe offered nothing on the topic of therapeutics. The omission was striking, given that some effective treatments are known and others are awaiting FDA approval.
The effect of all these shortcomings is that Stumble Joe’s response to the viral blizzard was little more than a publicity stunt. The upside is that Stumble Joe was man enough to do it.