Joe Biden made a big deal about always consulting the "science." He vowed to follow the "experts." He vowed to control COVID.
But well, that promise was like all of Joe's other promises: Phony.
Two more leading health care regulators, genuine experts in their field, have resigned their long-held positions just as the flu and COVID season is upon us. Their exit follows high-profile resignations at the Centers for Disease Control -- Nancy Messonnier and Anne Schuchat. Word is out that these professionals don't like being issued orders about what the 'science' is from the White House before they can make their determinations and they'll willing to end their careers for it.
Politico broke this story about the last two:
On Tuesday, two top FDA vaccine regulators resigned a decision that one former official said was rooted in anger over the agencys lack of autonomy in the booster planning so far. A current health official said the pair, Marion Gruber and Philip Krause, left over differences with FDAs top vaccine official Peter Marks. Now the agency is facing a potential mutiny among its staff and outside vaccine advisers, several of whom feel cut out of key decisions and who view the plan to offer boosters to all adults as premature and unnecessary.
POLITICO spoke to 11 current and former health officials and people familiar with the matter who described growing exasperation with the administration's disjointed process for implementing its booster plan. Those sources said there is little coordination between federal health agencies, even as two top FDA officials try to guide the rollout.
In mid-August, the White House announced a plan to get booster shots to contain the COVID delta variant, in the wake of a slew of breakthrough cases. They also put out an apparently arbitrary diktat of eight months after the second COVID shot. And a lot of top doctors knew it was a made-up number. It wasn't exactly the "science." An anecdotal case in point: My own booster shot, which I got a couple weeks ago at UCSD, a top health care system, four months after I got the second Pfizer shot. I was in an immunocompromised category so the computerized system called me in. It seemed early given the White House's and the press's calls for "eight months after" and I asked one of my doctors about it. He confided to me that in reality, no one really knows when a booster should be administered.
Which is where the FDA resignations come in. According to Politico:
But for now, much of the discord within the agency centers on the administration's decision to push ahead with boosters before FDA's top scientists had a chance to weigh in.
It was the administration's booster plan; it wasn't the FDA's booster plan, said Paul Offit, a University of Pennsylvania infectious disease expert who sits on FDAs vaccine advisory committee. The administration has kind of backed themselves up against the wall a little bit here.
Biden muddied the waters even further by saying maybe the booster could be administered five months in. Hey, whatevs.
The career medical regulators, Gruber and Krause, apparently couldn't take it -- and unlike the generals at the Pentagon who lost us a war -- they resigned.
Was it really that as reported? I think it was. Neither has any record of any political activity -- and I checked well. Open Secrets reveals a couple of people with the same names whose other information indicates they clearly aren't the same people. On other forms of political activity -- I found nothing. These guys don't do politics. Gruber has worked for the FDA for 32 years, and Krause her deputy has been at her side for a decade. Both are apparently very effective, getting other vaccines approved and to market, such as the Zika and MERS vaccines, and several others, too.
FDAs former acting chief scientist Luciana Borio added on Twitter, FDA is losing two giants who helped bring us many safe and effective vaccines over decades of public service.
These two are the leaders for Biologic (vaccine) review in the US. They have a great team, but these two are the true leaders of CBER. A huge global loss if they both leave, Former BARDA director Rick Bright wrote, weighing in on the news. Dr. Gruber is much more than the Director. She is a global leader. Visionary mastermind behind global clinical regulatory science for flu, Ebola, Mers, Zika, Sars-cov-2, many others.
Reportedly, they wanted to get some science and facts in before recommending any booster shots to the public. And the Biden administration, mowed them down and told them what the 'science' was, never mind the facts.
The two characters involved in this, Gruber's and Krause's bosses, do indeed show signs of being political pawns willing to take orders from the White House. Their immediate boss, Peter Marks, does come off as a good doctor generally. But I found one thing that set off a bell, an old USAToday story saying that Marks was the one who kept news of the Pfizer vaccine's success in October out of the press, supposedly to keep it from being politicized before the election. Actually, that was political -- to hurt Donald Trump. And he's the one that the two FDA officials are reportedly clashing with most for political interference. As for Marks's boss, acting FDA director Janet Woodcock, she's an actual political appointee, so that speaks for itself.
But the real political meddler here appears to be NIH politico and chief White House science advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Politico noted this:
But others familiar with the administration's thinking said that Biden and his top health aides, including Zients and chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, had to lay the groundwork for booster shots so the public would be ready for what they saw as the unavoidable reality of additional vaccinations.
If the White House didnt lead, what would happen? said a person familiar with the discussions behind the scenes.
Fauci, of course, in the past, has actually said that attacks on him were "attacks on science" effectively saying that he was the science, so now we get it. Given Fauci's skill at manipulating the political process, the evidence here points to his being entirely behind this, sticking his nose into other regulators' business and calling his own science.
Which makes little sense at all. A slew of articles in the Atlantic Monthly of all places cite expert thinking on the risk of getting boosters, particularly boosters given too early to non-immunocompromised patients sneaking in a third jab to get a de facto booster (and they're out there):
If those data become available before youre eligible, you probably still wont want to finagle your way into a dose before your turn, because skipping the line conceivably could hurt your protection in at least one way. Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington, told me that overstimulating the immune system can make your body less adept at fighting off certain infections; scientists havent yet figured out whether thats true for COVID-19, but Pepper sees it all the time in her work on malaria. Your immune system needs some time and space to calm down in between seeing one infection and the next one so that it can hone its pathogen-detection skills, Pepper said. Hitting it with another vaccine before its ready might not make it any better at fighting the coronavirus.
The other problem with boosters, which is why they are opposed by the World Health Organization, is that getting one nation's population boostered while much of the rest of the world remains unvaccinated and developing variants as a result, won't actually work to stop the pandemic. Many sources out there -- the Washington Post, Wired, and the Atlantic -- have noted that experts have found that getting the whole world vaccinated to an acceptable level will do much more to control COVID than hyper-vaccinating just one part of the world's population.
The sad thing is that the broader pictures -- that natural immunity from having COVID is never considered, or that unvaxxed Sweden is developing very low COVID infection rates based on that natural immunity, while tiny hyper-vaxxed Israel is experiencing more bad COVID outbreaks isn't even considered.
It's important to note that these resignations may not be confined to just those factors. Gruber is on record as expressing skepticism about child vaccines, while the Fauci'd up White House is looking to push those, too. What we see here is a politicization of actual science, with real scientists of no discernable politics not being able to take it any more. Why would the White House and Fauci be doing this? Pushing bad or risky science that real scientists don't want to put their names on, suggests some kind of money or influence operation, if not something worse.
MSNBC of all places has a pretty good piece on how bad it looks:
But when four scientists and physicians at two of the most important United States agencies leave during the middle of a pandemic with no ready transition plan or heirs apparent, there is clearly a need to look to the agencies leadership. In this case, the FDA lacks the necessary leadership in the Office of the Commissioner, and the public will pay a price for it.
It's another reason to demand resignations from a much higher level.