President Trump has revealed a plan to mobilize the US military to deliver mass vaccinations across the country, coupled with Operation Warp Speed, a “Manhattan project-style” race to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.
by Raul Diego
Part 2 - A tug of war for the SNS
The Trump administration’s ostensibly independent program to develop and deploy a vaccine against COVID-19 had been in the hands of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner and Trump advisor, Peter Navarro, though Bloomberg reported in April that HHS Secretary Alex Azar had been tasked by Trump to speed up the development of a vaccine and had been meeting for at least a month prior with White House officials.
The rollout is occurring as Congressional attention focuses on irregularities surrounding the supply of ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), a thousand of which were shipped to South Africa just the other day.
In addition, yesterday’s so-called “whistleblower” testimony by ousted Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) chief, Rick Bright, is also spotlighting the issues at the SNS, which is controlled by HHS’ ASPR, Robert Kadlec. BARDA is an office within ASPR that is tasked with sourcing pharmaceutical and medical supplies for the Strategic National Stockpile.
More controversy surrounding the Strategic National Stockpile erupted after Kushner made remarks about the role the SNS plays in emergency deployment situations. Kushner was harshly criticized for implying that the SNS belonged to the federal government and served only as a back-up for states, who should be accumulating their own stockpiles.
Despite being contradicted by well-established guidelines, which make clear that the SNS is in place to shore up any deficiencies in a public health emergency, the White House deliberately changed the language on its website to back up Kushner’s erroneous assertions about the stockpile.
What seems clear, however, is that Kushner himself was not the mastermind behind the sudden policy tweak. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a spokesperson for the Office of the ASPR told CNN they had been using such language “for weeks now.” Considering the history of how the SNS came to be in the hands of the ASPR, this latest tweak to how the SNS is managed might just be a new wrinkle in an old plan to mass inoculate the population of the United States.