The Food and Drug Administration approved a COVID-19 vaccine this week from Moderna, the second one to be approved after a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech SE was authorized last week.
This past Monday, the first COVID vaccination took place in Queens, New York. As of this writing, the Pfizer vaccine is being administered to health-care workers all over the country. The Moderna vaccine, which in addition to protecting individuals from infection might help curb transmission of the virus, is expected to ship out this weekend. By Monday of next week, millions of doses are set to be delivered to thousands of locations nationwide.
Never before has a vaccine been developed, tested, approved, and administered in such a short period of time—less than a year. The success of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed stands as one of the greatest achievements of the Trump presidency, or any presidency. By any measure, it’s an historic achievement.
But you won’t see any news articles or think-pieces or op-eds in the corporate press that give a shred of credit to President Trump, much less even mention him by name. The silence has been deafening. The same media establishment that derided Trump during the election for promising a vaccine by the end of the year have exactly nothing to say about how they were wrong and Trump was right.
But the fact remains, Trump was right. As my colleague Chris Bedford noted recently, the media were quick to publish bogus “fact checks” of Trump’s vaccine development timeline, calling it “misleading” and “inaccurate,” and trotting out experts to cast doubt on the administration’s efforts.
“Trump appears to be expediting the vaccine development process, misrepresenting how fast a vaccine will be available to the public in fighting the novel coronavirus,” ran a typical fact check in the Washington Post back in March. The article has since been updated with a single line that obviates the entire premise of the article: “A coronavirus vaccine was administered to the first U.S. citizen on Dec. 14.”
Elsewhere in the corporate press, Trump is barely mentioned. The Atlantic, a once-respected magazine that’s fallen on hard times in recent years, published a piece headlined, “The COVID-19 Manhattan Project,” about the unprecedented efforts of scientists and researchers to understand the virus and develop a vaccine and treatments over the past year.
You might think it strange that such an article would barely mention the president—like an article about the actual Manhattan Project that barely mentioned Franklin Delano Roosevelt—but not Atlantic staff writer Ed Yong. He brings up Trump halfway through, simply as “Donald Trump” (not president), and only to bash him for promoting the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible coronavirus treatment.
Indeed, Trump’s sole mention in Yong’s lengthy think-piece comes in a paragraph about how the “quest for COVID‑19 treatments was slowed by a torrent of shoddy studies whose results were meaningless at best and misleading at worst.” You get the idea: Trump was part of the problem, not the solution. His only contribution was to slow real progress, sow confusion, and mislead the public.
This is nonsense. The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed took the risk out of vaccine development by funding several pharmaceutical companies at once, preordering millions of doses of vaccines that were still in trials, and investing in manufacturing facilities. It’s hard to overstate the effect this had on vaccine development.
The Moderna vaccine in particular was made possible through a close collaboration with Operation Warp Speed. Nearly $2.5 billion in federal funds helped Moderna hire more people, scale up production, and deliver a vaccine that’s reported to be 94.1 percent effective in a trial of 30,000 people (the Pfizer vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95 percent.) Both Moderna and Pfizer benefited from the administration’s decision to pre-purchase 200 million doses of the vaccines, eliminating much of the risk the companies might have faced and guaranteeing enough doses for 100 million Americans.
Other countries have had nowhere near the success as Operation Warp Speed has had with Pfizer and Moderna. A vaccine under development by British-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has had muddled results in clinical trials, which were abruptly halted when a study participant in Britain fell ill. A number of Chinese pharmaceutical companies are developing COVID vaccines but have released almost no information about them, the lack of transparency leaving doubts about their safety and efficacy.
As things stand now, the United States, by supporting and partnering with major pharmaceutical companies, appears to have developed multiple effective COVID vaccines in record time. Nothing like this has ever happened before in medicine.
If a Democratic administration had done this, we would be inundated with fawning profiles of the key players and presidential advisors who shepherded the vaccine through to completion. A Democratic president would have been given a Nobel Peace Prize and praised ad nauseum in every corporate media outlet. We would never hear the end of it. Don’t be surprised if the media end up giving President-elect Joe Biden credit for beating COVID next year thanks to a vaccine developed on Trump’s watch.
The truth is, not even a global pandemic takes precedence over the media’s hatred of Trump. That’s why his administration’s role in creating a successful vaccine is being memory-holed, right now, in real time.
You can add Operation Warp Speed to all of Trump’s other major achievements that you won’t be hearing about on the news, but will probably one day read about in the history books.