Thursday, December 17, 2020

When you're a star - you can grab those virus treatments by the ...

Trump cronies cut in line for virus treatments, vaccines writes Dana Milbank in the Wooster Daily Record. (Tip from Scriber’s Editor-at-Large, Sherry).


WASHINGTON – Rudy Giuliani is a horrible human being.

I’m not talking about his hair-dye malfunction, his cruelty about Hunter Biden’s drug problems or his outing to the landscaping business hard by the porn shop.

I’m talking about this: Somebody may very well be dying right now because of his recklessness.

He roamed the country, often mask-free, spouting lies about election fraud. Then when he (inevitably) got covid–19, the White House secured for him rare treatments, including a lifesaving antibody cocktail available to few on the planet outside of President Donald Trump and his cronies, such as Chris Christie and Ben Carson. Doctors ration the scarce drug, so Giuliani’s good fortune is the misfortune of somebody else who desperately needed it.

“The president told me if I took this Regeneron I’d be 10 years younger,” Giuliani said in one interview boasting about his rapid recovery. “The White House physician helped a lot,” he said at another point. “The president helped a lot. They got me better in two days.” This led Giuliani, like Trump, to pronounce the disease curable, saying, “you can’t let it stop your life.”

Tell that to the families of the some 300,000 dead.

Now comes the latest move by Trump to protect the lives of the politically powerful and well-connected. The White House said Sunday that it would let officials in the administration, Congress and the courts jump the queue to receive the just-authorized vaccine – regardless of actual vulnerability. A National Security Council spokesman said in a statement Sunday that “senior officials across all three branches of government will receive vaccinations pursuant to continuity of government protocols.”

Now the White House is worried about continuity of government?

Even Trump apparently felt some rare shame. He tweeted Sunday night that White House officials “should receive the vaccine somewhat later.” If Trump is (for once) telling the truth, this still would apparently mean others in the administration could still cut the line.

Though details are fuzzy, the line-cutting scheme would also appear to allow members of Congress to get their vaccines before their constituents do – even though Congress (thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) hasn’t passed a covid relief bill that would send states the billions of dollars they need to administer the vaccine. Not one member of Congress should jump the queue before Congress sends states the funds to vaccinate the rest of us.

The White House plan, as originally described, would let the likes of Justice Samuel Alito cut in line, too. A month ago, Alito bemoaned the “previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty” during the pandemic. Two weeks later, Alito and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett struck down New York’s attempts to limit crowd size at religious gatherings in places where the virus is rampant. Such gatherings fuel the spread.

So now these justices get first dibs at the vaccine while their ruling makes the rest of us more likely to get sick.

It’s reasonable for some prominent officials to be vaccinated publicly to encourage trust. But Holly Fernandez Lynch, a medical ethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told me that giving the scarce vaccine to a large number of federal officials is “demonstrating wild unfairness: You can skip the queue even if you haven’t taken other self-protective measures like wearing masks and social distancing.” Yet that’s how it’s been, with both therapeutics and now vaccines. “Consideration of political and social connections is absolutely not an acceptable allocation strategy,” she said.

Carson, the Housing and Urban Development secretary who received Regeneron under preferential treatment, said he’s convinced it “saved my life.” Christie even refused to be put in a clinical trial of Regeneron and instead got preferential access to a different antibody cocktail. The Post’s Laurie McGinley and Josh Dawsey reported that “several other people in Trump’s orbit” have also been offered Regeneron.

This comes on top of the flagrant disparities throughout the pandemic based on race and wealth. Those with lower incomes have been hit harder, in part because they can’t work from home. While the stock market roars, low-wage jobs have been the slowest to recover.

But don’t worry – Giuliani is fine. “If it wasn’t me, I wouldn’t have been put in a hospital frankly,” he boasted. “Sometimes when you’re a celebrity … they’re going to examine it more carefully and do everything right.”

When you’re a star, they let you do it.

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.


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