Politics Trump Administration Dips Into Protective Gear, CDC Funds to Fund Vaccine Push
Poll: Number of Americans willing to get a vaccination falls as fears mount that Trump is putting politics before safety
Now, four months later, less than a third of Americans (32 percent) say they plan to get vaccinated, according to the latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll — a stunning 23-point decline that reflects rising concern about the politicization of the vaccine process and underscores how challenging it will be to stop the pandemic through vaccination alone. As recently as late July, 42 percent of Americans had said they planned to get vaccinated, meaning 10 percent of the public has moved into the “no” or “not sure” column over the last month or so. © Provided by Yahoo! News The question is why.
(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration has shifted billions of dollars previously allocated to public-health programs into its Operation Warp Speed vaccine push, reflecting the U.S. government’s increasing focus on a medical solution to ease the Covid-19 pandemic.
The transfers, disclosed in a government audit, reported by Bloomberg News and described by congressional aides, have grown the budget of the Warp Speed program to as large as $18 billion, much larger than the $10 billion figure the administration has routinely cited in public.
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USA TODAY's expert panel sees steady progress toward a safe and effective COVID vaccine, urge public's patience as trials proceed and data comes in.They know the country longs for normalcy, which only widespread use of a vaccine that makes the majority of Americans immune to COVID-19 can bring. But they remind us a viable vaccine can only come when there’s solid, verifiable and freely accessible research results showing it works and helps more than harms.
One of the biggest transfers came in August, with $6 billion pulled from $16.7 billion that had been allocated to the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile, which buys, holds and distributes crucial medical supplies in times of national crisis. The money had originally been meant to replenish stocks of medical protective gear, ventilators, and Covid-19 testing supplies, all of which have experienced shortages at points during the pandemic.
The transfer, disclosed in a footnote buried on page 135 of athis month about the U.S. response to the pandemic, came after Health and Human Services officials said that they had been unable to spend about $1 billion of the money allocated for the stockpile.
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The same GAOfound that shortages of personal protective equipment persist, even as the stockpile has purchased hundreds of millions in supplies. Concerns from nurses spurred the Trump administration to release millions of masks from the stockpile, but health-care workers say they still don’t have enough, particularly of N95 respirators.
HHS pulled another $700 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and directed it to Operation Warp Speed, Bloomberg Newson Sept. 16. HHS also drew $300 million in CDC funds for a planned advertising campaign, Robert Redfield, the CDC director, .
A person familiar with the situation said that much of the CDC funds would likely have gone to state and local health authorities responding to Covid-19. Redfield told Congress at the hearing that the agency needs an additional $6 billion in funds to help states distribute any coronavirus vaccine that becomes available.
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In a statement, a senior HHS official said that the department was using Covid-19 response money provided by Congress to get a vaccine to the American people as quickly as possible.
Warp Speed was designed to quickly fund pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to develop vaccines and drugs, financing manufacturing and guaranteeing purchase of vaccines ahead of clinical trials that will show if they work. The program will likely shave years off the time needed to find a vaccine and if successful may save tens of thousands or hundreds of thousand of lives in the U.S., and potentially more around the world.
In public statements, the Trump administration has repeatedlythat the Warp Speed program is funded by $10 billion that Congress directed to the effort, along with “other flexible funding.” But a close review of publicly available records of the deals show agreements already struck with private-sector entities under the program total almost $13 billion.
HHS declined to provide Bloomberg News with a full accounting of Warp Speed’s sources of funding or commitments. An HHS spokesperson referred to the agency’sdescribing the $10 billion and other flexible funding, and said that the program has allocated about $10 billion to private partners.
Many parents are hesitant to give their kids a Covid-19 vaccine. What if schools require it?
"This is going to be a huge issue, and I don't think most people understand that yet," a school law attorney said."There is no way in hell I would be playing politics with my daughter's health and safety," said Vargas, 36, an online fitness instructor. If the public school Madison attends and loves says the vaccine is mandatory, "we would find other options," she said.
Top Trump health officials are scheduled to testify at aon Wednesday, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci; Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn; the CDC’s Redfield, and Admiral Brett Giroir, the administration’s Covid-19 testing “czar.”
Aspects of the funding transfers were described by congressional aides familiar with the program’s finances, who spoke on condition of anonymity. One of the aides said that the movement of funds and lack of transparency have concerned Democrats in Congress.
Until July, the administration provided Congress with detailed breakdowns of how Warp Speed funding was obligated, and how much went to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, said the aides. Those funding lines have since been consolidated into a single line referring to the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority, obscuring the details, they said. Lawmakers have asked the Trump administration for breakdowns of how the funding is allocated, without success, one aide said.
Congress passed a series of relief packages in the spring that dedicatedin pandemic response, as virus-related shutdowns wrecked the economy. Those funds went to individuals, businesses, health-care providers, and state and local governments, among other uses. They included additional funding for the CDC and the Strategic National Stockpile to respond to the pandemic. The Democratic House passed an additional measure in May, but negotiations with the Republican-controlled Senate stalled over the summer.
'Are people to be left to die?' Vaccine pleas fill UN summit
If the United Nations was created from the ashes of World War II, what will be born from the global crisis of COVID-19? Many world leaders at this week’s virtual U.N. summit hope it will be a vaccine made available and affordable to all countries, rich and poor. Many world leaders at this week’s virtual U.N. summit hope it will be a vaccine made available and affordable to all countries, rich and poor. But with the U.S., China and Russia opting out of a collaborative effort to develop and distribute a vaccine, and some rich nations striking deals with pharmaceutical companies to secure millions of potential doses, the U.N. pleas are plentiful but likely in vain.
Such transfers are allowed under the laws that appropriated the funds. It’s also not unusual to move funds around among different parts of government when the law provides that flexibility, said Howard Koh, a former HHS Assistant Secretary for Health in the Obama Administration. But he said the situation raised questions after reports about “how HHS is overseeing these agencies, CDC and FDA in particular, and whether the public health experts are able to do their jobs without interference.”
“Transparency has got to be held at the highest level,” said Koh, now a professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
Accelerating a vaccine is central to President Donald Trump’s response to Covid-19, as well as his political future. He hason how quickly a shot may be ready, saying one could be , ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with broader access to the public by April. Scientific leaders in his administration have said the middle of 2021 or later is more realistic for wide distribution.
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Children will not likely see a coronavirus vaccine until late 2021: Experts .
America's youngest may not be vaccinated until late next year, health experts told ABC News. © Brian Snyder/Reuters, FILE Boston Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Sara Stulac talks to the parents of two-year old Areeba Syed on the steps of their home after Areeba received a routine check-up in Boston, May 8, 2020. Despite recent evidence that children may play a larger role in the community spread of COVID-19, experts say the delay is appropriate, because a vaccine should be tested in adults first to ensure it's safe and effective before being tested in children.