Pandemics

Nikki Haley’s perspective

Former US Ambassador to the UN gave her 10c worth on coronavirus from the perspective of having been a governor herself. What she says is not dissimilar to that of Australia and the federal-state relationship.

Overheated critics of President Trump accuse him of being an authoritarian. Of not caring about checks and balances, civil rights, and constitutional limits on executive power. And yet, today, many of these same critics demand that he nationalize supply chains, deploy the military on our shores and shut down every town in America. It’s a curious thing.

The coronavirus presents enormous national challenges that call for a strong federal response. But we should not lose sight of the essential role that states and governors must play. America is better served when presidents respect the diversity of states instead of dictating uniform solutions.

As a governor, when you take the oath of office to serve your state, you don’t know what will come your way. During my six years as governor of South Carolina, I dealt with a thousand-year flood, damaging hurricanes, a racially driven church shooting, a white police officer who killed an innocent black victim, and a school shooting.

When times were calm, we would try to get ahead of the curve, holding regular meetings with my emergency team to make sure we were up-to-date on supplies, procedures, logistics and technology. We learned the importance of planning and to control what we could.

I was a Republican governor with a Democrat in the White House. We disagreed on most policy matters, but we put those differences aside to serve the immediate needs of our joint constituents. You don’t serve your people if you let politics get in the way.

If you know a crisis is coming, one of the first things a governor will do is reach out to the White House to coordinate F.E.M.A. relief before it hits. Then, when the trouble arrives, everyone is on the same page.

F.E.M.A. typically sends a liaison who coordinates efforts and assesses vulnerabilities. It’s technical stuff. It requires knowing your own state and building a relationship with those on the federal level who apportion resources. It takes time, effort and foresight.

Once a crisis hits, state responsibility is primary. The federal government can provide crucial resources, but the burden is on the governor and her team to distribute them. No two states are alike, and blanket approaches won’t work.

In today’s crisis, governors from both parties have exemplified strong leadership. They know their residents and their state’s needs better than anyone in the federal government. In the state-federal partnership, governors are in the best position to control what happens on the ground, better than any president could be.

Governors know their state’s mayors and local officials who facilitate aid distribution. They know their local national guard leadership, which in many cases provides essential logistical support. They know their business leaders, who are being called on to uproot their production and services while keeping as many people employed as possible. They know their hospital administrators, who have eyes on the front-line heroes in this war. And they know the leaders of their faith communities, who often spearhead life-saving humanitarian projects.

As our highest nationally elected leader, of course President Trump has enormous responsibility in this unprecedented crisis, and he is marshaling the federal response on a massive scale. But in implementing plans to save people’s lives and keep our economy afloat, look no further than the governors.

They have complicated and difficult jobs. In this crisis, as in any, some are showing their competence and leadership, while others are revealing their shortcomings. It’s true that states shouldn’t have to compete, to bid against each other for supplies at inflated prices. And party politics shouldn’t factor in disbursing federal resources to states. But, most often, this is not the case. Governors who complain about the Trump administration are, in some cases, attempting to distract from their own failures to plan and execute.

Governors are the most successful when they are given the flexibility to lead. The federal government can provide the resources, but it should not take away too much flexibility. New York is not New Mexico. South Dakota is not South Carolina.

Our Constitution has it right: Keep control and decision making close to the people. We are seeing that play out in every state today. We face a painful challenge, but we will get through it. When we do, we will look back and see that governors rose to meet the challenge, and they did it best when Washington did not impose too much on them.”

Now media has an issue with Trump’s $3,100 stake in Sanofi

The story just keeps getting more deranged. Now The NY Times is taking umbrage at the fact that Trump’s family has a $110k stake in a Dodge & Cox global mutual fund that just happens to have Sanofi, the maker of Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine sulfate), as its largest holding. A whopping 2.9%! Which means his family stake would be c.$3,100.

One imagines if that same fund owned stakes in GM or Boeing that he should be accused of skimming off the top because he is ferried in The Beast and flown around in Air Force One. FedEx is in there too. Better keep an eye on Melania and Ivanka’s outgoing courier mail to ensure that UPS is also getting a fair share.

For the benefit of The NY Times, it might help to know that Trump has no legal control over the asset allocation choices made by a global mutual fund other than choosing to buy or sell it. Furthermore, Sanofi has been a dud stock over the last 5 years in terms of performance.

It would be better had the NYT taken pot-shots at Trump’s dreadful choice in asset manager given Sanofi has been such a dog.

Perhaps it would be nicer to think that the drug actually works. Certainly seems more promising than anything else out there to date.

Sad to think that The NY Times would seemingly prefer the drug fails and people die than Trump get a windfall profit in his 401k.

Trump Derangement Syndrome heading to The Hague for crimes against humanity?

Hague

You have to hand it to Democratic lawmakers who get triggered over anything. When collusion and impeachment failed domestically, why not call upon The Hague for charges of crimes against humanity? Hmmm.

Never mind that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was encouraging San Franciscans to “come to Chinatown and join” crowds at a parade in late February. Forget the Democratic NYC Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot downplaying the health warnings by telling the residents to immerse themselves in Lunar New Year festivities because stigmatization is a far bigger threat to people than a pesky virus.

Guess who is now telling people to stay at home? Yep, you guessed it – Oxiris Barbot. Even though she retweeted someone’s praise of her status as the first Latino female to occupy the post after it had all gone pear-shaped! If only one’s abilities were seen as more important than their identity…NYers would have been happier with an old white guy provided his medical advice kept the city from holding the highest infection rates.

Never mind that The Hill had criticized Trump’s travel ban on Feb 7th as unnecessary, parroting none other WHO, to then write on April 5th that he hadn’t done enough to block travel into the US. Which is it? The NY Times was happy to run a story on Feb 24th saying Trump’s travel ban was more an “emotional or political reaction.

Do Democratic House representatives hold such little faith in the domestic judiciary that Trump needs to be tried in an international court over supposed domestic crimes against innocent civilians? It won’t be long before Nancy Pelosi launches another impeachment trial over coronavirus. We encourage her to do it for the sake of revealing just whether she has any ties to America.

Rep Tavia Galonski’s tweet came shortly after Trump’s media briefing in which he once again spoke of hydroxychloroquine sulfate, a drug which he has previously reported has shown promise as a means of treating COVID-19.

How is it that the mainstream media outlets backflipped on their initial criticism on hydroxychloroquine to acknowledging its potential as reported by the medical profession to flip back to “irresponsibility” again. No country has a silver bullet and in such circumstances

Rep Galonski may have a case if the state was force-feeding strapped down patients against their will. The FDA says otherwise.

On March 28, 2020, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to allow hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products donated to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to be distributed and used for certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19. These drugs will be distributed from the SNS to states for doctors to prescribe to adolescent and adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible. The EUA requires that fact sheets that provide important information about using chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate in treating COVID-19 be made available to health care providers and patients, including the known risks and drug interactions. The SNS, managed by ASPR, will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ship donated doses to states.

The FDA’s latest fact sheet on hydroxychloroquine is here.

To be honest, who needs the FDA when we can rely on the tweets from a NY Times best-selling author with a law degree, Kurt Eichmann, who proposed 11 questions the White House press corps should ask of Trump with respect to hydroxychloroquine.

1. What dosage should people take?
2. How long should people take it?
3. What studies are you relying on for dosage and time?
3. Are you saying this is prophylactic or post-diagnosis?…(while he won’t know what the last question means if he says anything close to prophylactic)
5. How does hydroxychloroquine prevent viral infection?
6. Since hydroxychloroquine is an immunosuppressant, how isn’t there a risk that it will *increase* the risk of infection?
7. What studies have you reviewed showing it has a preventative effect because I can’t find any. (they don’t exist.)
(If he says for treatment…)
8. At what stage of infection should people take the medicine?
9. What should people with lupus and other autoimmune diseases do to find their medication, since your recommendations have led to a national shortage of hydroxychloroquine?
10. Will the government subsidize lupus & rheumatoid arthritis patients, given the price-gouging happening with these drugs?
11. Are you concerned about lupus and autoimmune patients who can’t find their medication refusing to vote for you because they’re now in pain?

As with any drug, a doctor prescribes medication based on the severity of illness and a whole range of other factors – size, age, gender. Trying to get Trump to answer a series of “gotcha” questions in the hope he bungles some of them just smacks of how little integrity there is in journalism. If Trump told journalists that drinking Drano was great for fixing stomach ulcers, would they believe him? Wouldn’t readers prefer medical opinion?

Let’s deal with the facts.

Hydroxychloroquine sulphate is an FDA approved drug dating back to April 1955. It is best known under the brand name of Plaquenil. There are generic manufacturers such as Teva and Mylan are already making the drug. In the US, it is strictly prescription-only medication. It has been approved to treat malaria

The 65-year-old Plaquenil and its 25-yo generic brothers haven’t been approved for the application of COVID19, which, as we know, in and of itself is a brand new strain of pathogen. So the “drug” has been approved but the application has not.

It is worth noting that it takes on average 12 years and over US$350 million to get a new drug from the laboratory onto the pharmacy shelf. At the company level, it undergoes around three and a half years of laboratory testing, before an application is made to the U.S. FDA to begin the testing on humans. Only 1 in 1000 compounds that enter lab testing will ever make it to the human testing stage.

Which is exactly why the FDA stated in its release late last month that there isn’t enough hard data due to a lack of clinical trials. Stands to reason that a drug we’re trying to find a cure for hasn’t a cure.

The FDA Accelerated Approval pathway was introduced in 1992 so that drugs to treat life-threatening diseases could be brought to market to make a significant impact on the course of diseases. For example, many antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS entered the market via accelerated approval, and subsequently altered the treatment paradigm.

Clearly, there has been no chance to conduct clinical trials on Plaquenil on COVID19 to get official FDA approval. The side effects of Plaquenil, when taken for malaria, are well known with 65 years of data. It is a question of whether the impact of the drug causes other side effects when used to treat COVID19. Hence why the FDA is trying to ensure that people are aware of the risks if they elect to take it.

Yes, the president has a habit of saying unnecessary things. He can be unpresidential at times. We have never hidden that.

However, at what point is Trump deserved of standing trial in The Hague given the timeline of events and an insane liberal media? Perhaps President Xi of China would be a more worthy respondent in the International Criminal Court for the cover-up which led to the outbreak in the first place.

We gambled on the wrong threat – climate change

Gamble

Thanks to SF for the flag.

The Toronto Sun has published a very sensible article pointing out that our obsession with climate change meant we focused less on where we might have.

“One of the key lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is that for at least the past decade, we focused disproportionately, or rather our governments did, on one potential global threat — human-induced climate change — to the exclusion of all others.

Anthropogenic climate change became the issue that sucked up all the oxygen in the room when it came to a global crisis.

At the expense of, for example, a contagious and deadly virus becoming a pandemic, which public health experts have been warning us about for decades.

In Canada, our political leaders, have long ignored — perhaps the fairer word is “downplayed” — the health care threat posed by the fact our hospitals are chronically overcrowded, with thousands of patients being treated in hallways, year after year.

That’s why the greatest concern health-care experts have now is that our hospitals, overcrowded in normal times and routinely operating at or beyond their designated capacities — as opposed to 80% of capacity to be able to handle a “black swan” event like COVID-19 — may soon be overrun by critically-ill patients.

Wrong decisions have dire consequences. We’re now facing them.

That’s not to say concern about human-induced climate change (not “climate change” as we obsessively and incorrectly describe it) was entirely misplaced.

It’s one of many serious environmental challenges we face, such as the more than 900 billion litres of raw sewage we’ve dumped into our rivers, lakes and oceans since 2013.

But while human-induced climate change contributes to human suffering and death, it has never been a so-called “existential” threat to humanity, meaning, a threat to human existence.

Neither is COVID-19. It will eventually burn itself out as have previous pandemics.

The question is how effectively and for how long can we contain it through aggressive social distancing — far harder to do in democracies than it sounds — and how many of us will die or suffer life-changing consequences before there’s a vaccine?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some who jumped on the anthropogenic climate change bandwagon early and hard, argue COVID-19 shows us what the world will be like if we don’t quickly abandon fossil fuels.

In reality, COVID-19 shows us what the world will be like if we abandon fossil fuels prematurely, without having reliable energy sources to replace them, compounded by the fact many opponents of fossil fuel energy also oppose nuclear power.

As Robert Bryce warns in Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future: “If you are anti-carbon dioxide and anti-nuclear, you are pro-blackout.”

Consider what the world would be like today, in the face of COVID-19, without fossil fuel (and nuclear) energy, a world climate radicals crave.

Without reliable, on-demand energy sufficient to power a modern, industrialized society — which neither wind nor solar power can provide at current levels of technology — our hospitals could not maintain sterile conditions.

Food and vaccines — when one for COVID-19 is developed — could not be preserved or transported.”

When the people you least expect praise Trump on COVID19 response

The View, hosted by Joy Behar is about as liberal as a show can get. The members of the panel are all suffering chronic Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Instead of wishing that Americans are safe, she tried to pillory California Governor Grant Newsom over his positive remarks about Trump, making out as though he was kissing the ring to get help. He replied,

Let me just acknowledge the frame of your question. We’re involved in over 68 lawsuits with the Trump administration, and so there’s no question we have had our differences of opinion on many issues but I just want to remind you that you and many others that maybe are not aware of this. We have been at this since late January. California got a head start in many respects where no one was really paying much attention. We started working with the administration directly to get these repatriated flights from mainland China into the state of California. Many states turned their back on those flights and those repatriation missions. California embraced them. We also had that “Grand Princess,” that large cruise ship where we worked very collaboratively with the federal government developed strong relationships of trust with emergency planning and how we can bring those passengers back into our diverse communities and all across the rest of the country.

As a consequence of that, our relationship began earlier than most, and so from that perspective, all I can say is from my perspective, the relationship has been strong and I’m not doing it to kiss the ring. I’m not doing it in a way, you know — I’m just being forthright with the president. He returns calls. He reaches out. He’s been proactive. We got that “Mercy” ship down here in Los Angeles. That was directly because he sent it down here. 2,000 medical units came to the state of California, these fms, these field medical stations, and that’s been very, very helpful and to the extent we’re going to need more, and I’ll let you know in a few weeks if that relationship continues.

What were we saying about media narratives that are so removed from the truth?

Why haven’t the media picked up on this Executive Order?

When Barack Obama became president in 2009, he eliminated the White House Health and Security Office, which worked on international health issues such as pandemics. However, after grappling with the 2014 & 2015 Ebola outbreaks he eventually set up the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense team in the final year of his 2nd term.

If we truly believed the media narrative, the spread of the COVID19 outbreak was a direct consequence of the Trump administration disbanding Obama’s 430 person team.

The truth is that during the summer of 2018, Trump’s NSC merged three directorates to make preparation for bioterrorism threats or pandemics seamless. The name was disbanded. Not the function.

Journalists had no qualms shaping the story as yet another Obama legacy torched based on ego alone. Trump Derangement Syndrome rules absolutely.

Which begs the question why there was no widespread reporting or recall of Trump’s Executive Order from September 2019? His demand prioritizes coordination and response to pandemics and the establishment of a National Influenza Vaccine Task Force.

Point 1(e) states clearly,

The seasonal influenza vaccine market rewards manufacturers that deliver vaccines in time for the influenza season, without consideration of the speed or scale of these manufacturers’ production processes.  This approach is insufficient to meet the response needs in the event of a pandemic, which can emerge rapidly and with little warning.  Because the market does not sufficiently reward speed, and because a pandemic has the potential to overwhelm or compromise essential government functions, including defense and homeland security, the Government must take action to promote faster and more scalable manufacturing platforms.

Section 2 goes further,

Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to modernize the domestic influenza vaccine enterprise to be highly responsive, flexible, scalable, and more effective at preventing the spread of influenza viruses.  This is a public health and national security priority, as influenza has the potential to significantly harm the United States and our interests, including through large-scale illness and death, disruption to military operations, and damage to the economy.  This order directs actions to reduce the United States’ reliance on egg-based influenza vaccine production; to expand domestic capacity of alternative methods that allow more agile and rapid responses to emerging influenza viruses; to advance the development of new, broadly protective vaccine candidates that provide more effective and longer lasting immunities; and to support the promotion of increased influenza vaccine immunization across recommended populations.

In short, before coronavirus was even on the radar Trump had already enacted a policy to better prepare industry to be able to supply an actual “response”. Furthermore the team wasn’t disbanded. It was merged on efficiency grounds.

As Mark Twain said,

“If you don’t read the newspaper you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper you’re misinformed.”