Happy Friday! This hasn’t been the longest week in history (that was the one Moses described in Genesis), but it seemed this week as if the sands of time were choked in the skinny part of the hourglass.
Forgive me, but I’m coffee-less this morning. I was told that my teeth needed to be whiter (and I can’t get no satisfaction), so I’m doing the four-day whitening thing, in which drinking coffee is said to reverse the effects of the process. Any dentists reading this, if you can be the one of ten who disagrees, please free me, and those around me, from coffee-less hell.
This morning, for your consideration…
Check out David’s update on Texas AG Ken Paxton, who is now leading a legal charge against Google, for, get this, “brazenly abusing its monopolistic power, going so far as to induce senior Facebook executives to agree to a contractual scheme that undermines the heart of competitive process.” Yes, poor Facebook, that scrappy upstart (as of this morning, FB market cap is $781.8 billion to Alphabet’s $1.18 trillion), is being bullied by the multicolored O.G. Texas to the rescue, boys!
Also, don’t forget to follow the Christmas carol countdown, now at #8.
Jay and I have a new Breakfast with Bermans podcast out. We meander through Banana Republicans, into Elector Flagrante, and end with the Supreme Court possibly setting up a federalist argument for states picking electors based on the national public vote (NPV Fever). It’s 25 minutes of pure Berman bro.
Why is the federal government so feckless?
Bureaucrats always win. For some reason, Pfizer is making millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine, and Moderna has just received a thumbs-up from an FDA advisory panel for its own vaccine, yet the federal government is sitting on its thumbs.
It’s almost like the HHS doesn’t like Pfizer. The Washington Post quoted Alex Azar’s own words from a CNBC interview.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, in a CNBC appearance on Thursday, noted that Pfizer had slashed its manufacturing projection for this year from 100 million doses to 50 million doses, and said he would “like to have more visibility” into the company’s manufacturing capacity.
“I do wish we would stop just talking about this Pfizer thing,” Azar said, noting that other vaccines were in the pipeline.
Pfizer noted that the feds were offered, in October, an additional 100 million doses, but turned the company down, then later reversed course only to learn that Pfizer committed those doses to other countries. Such great negotiating.
Now state health authorities, who were counting on receiving a certain number of doses that they asked for and were assured a few weeks ago were coming, are finding their allocation slashed by as much as half.
“It’s 40 percent less than we were originally thinking,” Washington state Health Secretary John Wiesman said. “We thought we were getting 74,100 and now we are planning for 44,850 doses.”
Maine said it is receiving about 40 percent fewer doses than expected — 8,775 rather than 13,650. The state will not be able to fully launch its program next week to vaccinate residents and staff of all long-term-care facilities, said Robert Long, a spokesman for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
As for Pfizer, they told their side of the tiff in an official statement.
“Pfizer is not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed. This week, we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the U.S. Government to the locations specified by them. We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.
Basically it boils down to this. The feds could have locked up much more vaccine from Pfizer, but thought they could get a better deal from Moderna or others in the pipeline. Now they’re letting states know they passed on the ground floor, when Operation Warp Speed was supposed to put us first in line. Other nations will get the doses Americans should have gotten because of this stupidity.
If Alex Azar wasn’t about to lose his job in January, I’d say fire him.
Eventually, everyone will have the vaccine available. Negotiations with Pfizer are continuing, but for the second and third quarters of 2021, not today. If you’re not angry over this rank incompetence bordering on betrayal, you should be.