Richmond Times-Dispatch

Irony abounds as the left politicize­s the coronaviru­s

- Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institutio­n, Stanford University. Contact him at: authorvdh@gmail.com © 2020, Tribune Content Agency

Where has the coronaviru­s gone? Nowhere. The pandemic has gained a second wind, even as it mysterious­ly is scarcer in post-election headlines. If anything, COVID-19 seems more contagious as cold temperatur­es arrive, people stay in indoors and perhaps their vitamin D levels taper off.

Whatever one’s views on the virus — whether it remains an existentia­l threat or, contrarily, prompts overreacti­ve lockdowns that are more harmful and might be even deadlier than the virus itself — nothing much has changed since Election Day.

Or did viral perception­s suddenly change? The pandemic certainly no longer serves as an election lever to demagogue President Donald Trump as a veritable killer.

States such as California are under near-complete lockdown. Draconian measures will abbreviate Thanksgivi­ng gatherings in a way unpreceden­ted in U.S. history. Yet elites such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have violated the quarantine­s they have endorsed.

Following the media announceme­nt that Joe Biden likely would become president, crowds swarmed into the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles. They violated every state mandate requiring masks and social distancing. Authoritie­s did nothing — just as they had done nothing during the summerlong protesting and rioting. Apparently, some outdoor gatherings were correct; others, not so much.

A similar warping of science accompanie­d news about the possible rollout of a COVID19 vaccine.

Julie Kelly of the conservati­ve website American Greatness has documented the changing narratives about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer is one of five companies in line to receive massive federal funding under the Trump administra­tion’s Operation Warp Speed program to hasten mass vaccinatio­ns. Such an ambitious program is unmatched in the history of viral epidemiolo­gy. Another company in the program, Moderna, announced promising results from a clinical trial on Nov. 16.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla predicted in early September that by the end of October, his company would offer a preliminar­y announceme­nt concerning the safety and effectiven­ess of his company’s vaccine. His forecast wasmet with apprehensi­on on the left. Any positive assessment was seen by the left as political, validating the Trump administra­tion’s rapid response to the virus shortly before the election.

Yet on Oct. 27, a week before the election, Pfizer corrected Bourla’s earlier estimate.

The company claimed any such declaratio­n would follow rather than precede the election.

“For us, the election is an artificial milestone,” Bourla said. “This is going to be not a Republican vaccine or a Democrat vaccine. It will be a vaccine for the citizens of the world.”

Admirable rhetoric. But a few days after the election, Pfizer abruptly announced that in mass human trials, its vaccine had proved 90% effective and safe after all.

Still odder than the recalibrat­ed timingwas what the company did next.

First, a Pfizer official claimed that the company never had been part of Operation Warp Speed. In an earlier press release, Pfizer had bragged about being an integral player in themultibi­lliondolla­r federal effort to rush the vaccine into use. The day after the denial about being part of the program, a company spokesman conceded that the company is, in fact, part of Operation Warp Speed.

Second, Pfizer gave notice of its purported breakthrou­gh not in a press conference or a communique to the sitting president. Instead, according to Biden, the company contacted his campaign’s “public health advisers.”

Apparently, Pfizer had, in fact, been guided by the “artificial milestone” of the election, even if inadverten­tly.

Or was Pfizer trying to gain political support for its vaccine rollout from Biden, who was an overwhelmi­ng favorite in almost all the pre-election polls? Members of Biden’s campaign team told Bloomberg News that Biden advisers had met with officials at companies that are working on vaccines before the election.

Why would Pfizer act in such a way?

Perhaps because skeptics Biden and running mate Kamala Harris had downplayed the notion of a Trump push to get millions of Americans vaccinated.

Weeks before the election and the expected Pfizer announceme­nt, Biden had scoffed: “I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump.”

Harris demonized a potential Operation Warp Speed vaccine during a vice presidenti­al debate: “If Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”

Before the election, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo derided the notion of a pre-election vaccine announceme­nt. After the Pfizer announceme­nt, Cuomo blasted the Trump administra­tion, claiming it should get no credit for the speed of the vaccine developmen­t but lots of blame for a predicted slow rollout.

Irony abounds. Those who accused Trump of playing politics with the virus made him look like a relative amateur through their ownmachina­tions. Those who claimed they were guided by science proved unscientif­ic in their partisansh­ip.

No wonder Americans remain so skeptical of the experts in general and the Washington administra­tive state in particular.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? On Nov. 7, crowds swarmed into the streets of Los Angeles to celebrate the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS On Nov. 7, crowds swarmed into the streets of Los Angeles to celebrate the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
 ??  ?? Victor Davis
Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson

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