Was Biden Too Slow to Act on Vaccines and Afghan Refugees?
Mandates brought up vaccination rates and patience produced bipartisan support for accepting exiles. But patience had high costs, too.
The primary blame lies with those, mainly Republicans, who have spread misinformation about vaccination, discouraged people from participating or just stigmatized vaccine mandates.
What’s not as clear is whether President Joe Biden’s way of dealing with that unfortunate reality has been effective or not. Biden held off on implementing vaccine mandates where he could, and jawboning others where he didn’t have the authority, until it was too late to prevent the current wave of the pandemic from doing damage. One could argue that acting earlier and more forcefully would have risked even worse partisan battles over inoculations, and that the situation will improve because Biden waited. But it’s at least as likely that those who were going to be irresponsible were going to be irresponsible, and that all Biden did by waiting was lose valuable time.
Biden, Allies Frustrated With Media’s Hawkish Coverage Of Afghanistan WithdrawalAfter years of ignoring Afghanistan, many close to the Biden White House — and the president himself — feel some major outlets are adopting a pro-war stance.
“Why do you continue to trust the Taliban, Mr. President?” the reporter said.
Notwithstanding the militant group’s poor human rights record and ultra-conservative Islamist ideology, multiple U.S. administrations have successfully negotiated with the Taliban. The Taliban have complex interests. As Biden noted on Friday, the organization is at war with the faction of the self-declared Islamic State (also known as ISIS), which is competing for power in Afghanistan.
But the reporter’s criticism-masquerading-as-query was the culmination of a week’s worth of dramatic finger-pointing and fretting from a Washington press corps that usually prides itself on neutrality.
Although the White House’s failure to foresee the rapid fall of the Afghan government and prepare accordingly has exacerbated the chaos of the U.S. withdrawal, Biden and his allies are furious with what they see as reporters’ and pundits’ unduly hawkish coverage of the exit.
How CDC data problems put the U.S. behind on the delta variant
Critics say the CDC’s failure to share real-time data led to overly rosy assessments of vaccine effectiveness — and complacency on the part of many Americans
The CDC’s fumbles on the delta variant, following a year when its missteps were often attributed to Trump administration meddling, tell a more complicated story — that the once-storied agency faces other challenges that have hampered an agile response to the pandemic. Critics lament that the most up-to-date data about the delta variant has come from other countries, such as Israel, Great Britain and Singapore. And they say the CDC’s inability to share real-time information led top administration officials, including the president himself, to offer overly rosy assessments of the vaccines’ effectiveness against delta that may have lulled Americans into a false sense of security, even as a more wily and formidable variant was taking hold.
Financial Times (paywall):
Are vaccines becoming less effective at preventing Covid infection?
Researchers puzzle over suggestions that jabs do not stop transmission as well as first thought
Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach ofFT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here. https://www.ft.com/content/49641651-e10a-45f6-a7cc-8b8c7b7a9710 An Oxford university study published on Thursday found that the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine against symptomatic infection almost halved after four months, and that vaccinated people infected with the more infectious Delta variant had as high viral loads as the unvaccinated.Two research papers from the US and Qatar have also fuelled debate over the need for top-up booster shots as they found higher numbers of “breakthrough infections” than anticipated, even though protection against serious cases of the virus appears to hold.Natalie Dean, a biostatistics professor at Emory University, said the spread of the Delta variant had made it “a lot harder” to stop transmission.“The situation has changed with respect to how far we think vaccines can take us,” she said. “We’ve been brought back to a more modest — but still critical — goal: to prevent severe disease, hospitalisations and deaths.”
Biden team tries to get ahead of the virus — and maybe the science — with decision on booster shots
President Biden vowed to “follow the science” in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, but some scientists say his decision to recommend widespread coronavirus vaccine booster shots relies on incomplete data and will put pressure on regulators yet to approve the plan.
The Biden administration’s decision to order up booster shots for vaccinated adults “doesn’t make any sense to me at all,” said Vincent Racaniello, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University. “I think it’s way premature because the science doesn’t say that we need to have a booster right now. It could be a year or two, depending on the data.”
The White House announced Wednesday that every adult American should make plans to get a booster shot, arguing that a third dose of coronavirus vaccine would boost protection against the delta variant as well as new variants that might arise. While Biden acknowledged the plan was “pending approval” from the Food and Drug Administration and experts who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the president mostly portrayed it as a done deal, saying that tens of millions of booster shots would become available the week of Sept. 20.
WHY YOU MIGHT WANT AN MRNA BOOSTER SHOT, IN ONE SIMPLE GRAPHIC
BOOSTER SHOTS MAY BE COMING TO THE US SOON, FOR BETTER OR WORSE.
Of course, the biggest caveat is that scientists aren’t entirely convinced that booster shots are necessary. Experts warn that the data that suggests booster shots will soon be necessary is preliminary, incomplete, or otherwise inconclusive, Nature News reported earlier this month.
Given those hesitations, it perhaps makes more sense to get the first round of vaccines out to more people before Americans get to triple up. A huge portion of the world’s population and even the US population is still unvaccinated. In many, especially poorer countries, that’s because shots aren’t even available — a stark difference from the US’s anti-vaxxer and vaccine hesitancy problems.
That hasn’t stopped Israel from offering booster shots though — a move that was criticized as being selfish by the World Health Organization given how many people around the world still need their first doses. It’s interesting, to say the least, to see the US follow suit.
Teri Carter/Editorial Board:
School board member in rural Kentucky: ‘I have never experienced so much hate’
School boards are inundated with disinfo as delta variant spreads.
Four days into the school year, our county health department announces it is already, in a word, overwhelmed. “We can’t even reach all of our positive cases, let alone their contacts,” a public health nurse says. “It’s too overwhelming because it’s getting so widespread.”
This is what’s happening right now, all over the country. What will this mean for our kids? For all of us?
I contact Ms. Morgan to ask how she thinks the school year is going thus far.
“When you hear mask material is made from the same material as underwear, it makes me want to fight disinformation more,” she said. “People are so far down the rabbit hole. There are parents who are still fighting [the governor’s] mask mandates.” She adds that there are already approximately a hundred students under quarantine, which is up more than half from two days ago, and that 30 students and five staff have tested positive.
We have only been in school one week.
Trump & Co. engineered the pullout from Afghanistan. Now they criticize it.
Trump’s partner in hypocrisy, as in misgovernment, is former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Not only did he oversee the negotiations with the Taliban, Pompeo convinced Pakistan to release from prison Abdul Ghani Baradar, Afghanistan’s new president, to serve as an interlocutor. Pompeo met with Baradar last year and bragged about it on his Twitter feed, thereby legitimating the Taliban and disheartening the Afghan military.
As recently as July, Pompeo was eager to “applaud” the withdrawal, saying he wanted “the Afghans to take up the fight for themselves.” On Sunday, by contrast, he was fulminating that “weak American leadership always harms American security.” He went on to ludicrously accuse the Biden administration of being “focused on critical race theory while the embassy is at risk.”
Hold my nonalcoholic beer, says former vice president Mike Pence. On Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, he offered a master class in blame-shifting and buck-passing. “The Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan is a foreign-policy humiliation,” he thundered, “unlike anything our country has endured since the Iran hostage crisis.”
Housekeeping note: We are getting a hurricane force tropical storm (Henri) on Sunday here in Connecticut. I have my generator ready, so hopefully no problems with Monday’s APR.