Biden’s division is not working. Vaccines do.
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In his speech today on the massive new COVID Omicron outbreak, President Joe Biden attempted to adopt a more conciliatory tone, acknowledging that it is not March 2020 and that “we’re going to be fine.”
It was also heartening to hear that troops and medics are being sent to overcrowded hospitals, that FEMA surge facilities are being put in place, and protective gear is being sent to the hardest hit places. .
TRUMP “VERY APPRECIING” AND “SURPRISE” BIDEN ACKNOWLEDGED THE SUCCESS OF THE COVID VACCINE FROM ITS ADMINISTRATION
In the best move of the day, the president pledged half a billion free rapid tests (accessible through a federal website), a big step on the road to delivering rapid COVID testing to every home in America – which is what me and others called for months. But we still need more, and earlier than in January. We need it now.
Unfortunately, the President continued his divisive rhetoric of reassuring the vaccinated while issuing terrible warnings to the unvaccinated. This approach hasn’t worked before, and it won’t work now.
It would be best if the President could focus on the positive news that boosters still largely protect you from Omicron, while finally acknowledging that recovering from a previous infection provides useful immunity to keep Omicron from being too harsh. Dr Wassila Jassat, head of hospital DATCOV surveillance for COVID-19 at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa, told me today on Doctor Radio on SiriusXM that she thinks it is is that combination of immune factors that has slowed down the current outbreak in South Africa and helped keep it rather mild.
The president’s announcement lacked some practical measures, tools to allay our fears. Vaccines are still not available in most doctor’s offices, where doctors could discuss the pros and cons with patients. The White House is still not expanding Operation Warp Speed’s approach to pre-purchasing targeted boosters for emerging variants.
At the same time, while the hysteria is high, almost everyone who tests positive looks for Regeneron or Lilly monoclonal antibodies. But these are rare and have limited effectiveness against the Omicron variant. While GSK’s sotrovimab is effective against Omicron and is expected to be mass produced. Yet the federal government only purchased 50,000 doses. This effort must be immediately increased to millions.
And probably the biggest omission of all concerns Pfizer’s new antiviral drug, Paxlovid, which is effective against all variants and can be combined with rapid tests to dramatically reduce the risk of hospitalization. Yet the drug remains blocked at the FDA, still awaiting emergency use authorization. The government has pre-purchased ten million courses of treatment, but needs to buy ten times as many to have an immediate impact.
The president’s rhetoric still involves too much anger – pitting the vaccinated against the unvaccinated. Make no mistake, vaccines work and everyone should take them.
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But the politics of division and marginalization do not work. People should take vaccines and boosters because they lower the risk of serious illness and spread – not politics or politicians.
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We have the tools to get out of the pandemic. We need a lot more of these tools, and we need them faster. It is the role and the responsibility of the president to bring us the preventions, the treatments and the cures.
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