Jerry Rogers, the editor of both RealClearHealth.com and RealClearPolicy.com, moderated a discussion with several experts , including me, on various aspects of vaccines.
In my initial remarks, I acknowledged the current deluge of misinformation and disinformation from various sources, including genuinely deluded individuals and rogue physicians. I spoke about the misconceptions concerning the COVID vaccines' ability to prevent infection and emphasized their effectiveness in averting severe disease, hospitalization, and death. An important point is that the vaccines were initially highly (>90%) effective at preventing infection but became less so as the virus mutated and evolved. They remain highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death, however.
I expressed confidence in our ability to replicate the success of Operation Warp Speed in managing a future pandemic, given the right people, organization, and resources. I also shared a personal anecdote about the FDA's approval of the first biopharmaceutical, human insulin. Humulin took only five months for approval, a remarkable feat compared to the average approval time of more than 30 months. But that experience pointed to a more systemic issue: civil servants avoid risks and delay approvals to protect themselves; delaying approvals keeps them out of trouble if their decisions ultimately prove wrong and drugs manifest unanticipated problems. Senior managers need to ensure that approvals are granted in a timely way.
I mentioned two recent notable, deplorable policies by Texas politicians. First, the legislature passed a law banning COVID vaccine mandates for all private businesses, including healthcare institutions. This is bewildering, especially considering that Texas has healthcare facilities like the MD Anderson Cancer Network, which has a huge population of immunocompromised cancer patients. Additionally, the Texas Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Pfizer, (falsely) accusing the company of misrepresenting the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine. These actions are not just ill-advised but will discourage Texans from getting vaccinated. There's a saying among infectious disease experts that vaccines don't save lives; vaccinations do. We need to get vaccines into more peoples' arms to prevent diseases and save lives.
RealClearHealth has made the video discussion, which lasts about an hour, available here.
 Eric Hargan, former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 2017 to 2021, as well Board Member of Operation Warp Speed; Kirsten Axelsen, nonresident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) focusing primarily on domestic and international pharmaceutical policy; Randall Lutter, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Manhattan and former senior science and regulatory advisor in the Office of the Commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2017 to 2020.