By: Cliff Kincaid
From the start of the crisis, President Trump has been trying to figure out — and cut through — the bureaucracy. His latest victory is the decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to accept 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and one million doses of chloroquine phosphate for possible use in treating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 or for use in clinical trials. Trump understands that America cannot wait for a possible vaccine and that patients and their doctors need the freedom now to try alternative treatments.
In this context, the tragic death of former Senator Tom Coburn is a reminder that the federal health care bureaucracy has been characterized by slow-moving efforts that are sometimes marked by corruption or incompetence. His sad passing is an occasion for remembering that, as a Senator and medical doctor, he released a major study, “CDC Off Center,” about how the federal agency wasted hundreds of millions of tax dollars and has been ineffective in controlling diseases. A case in point is the billions wasted on more than 30 years of research into an HIV/AIDS vaccine.
A strong conservative, Coburn was willing to challenge the bureaucracy and expose its malfeasance. He exposed what critics have called the “Medical Deep State.”
We saw the bureaucracy in action in 2014 when the Obama Administration failed to impose a travel ban and prevent disease carriers with the deadly Ebola virus from coming into the United States. The Obama administration actually allowed a carrier of Ebola from Africa, where it originated, into the United States, where he infected two nurses, one of whom had been allowed by the Centers for Disease Control to travel on a plane. He died. The CDC says the outbreak ended with more than 28,600 cases and 11,325 deaths. In the U.S., however, we were fortunate to escape a major outbreak.
Obama’s CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden, actually wrote an article, “Why I don’t support a travel ban to combat Ebola outbreak.” He is now a leading medical “expert” at the Council on Foreign Relations, a major source of anti-Trump commentaries.
My coverage of this disease at the time questioned why Obama opposed a common-sense ban on travel to the U.S. by people from Ebola-infected countries. He also kept the southern border wide open. Simply put, Obama viewed restrictions on African travel to the U.S. as racist. He was giving black Africa special access to the U.S., and putting their interests ahead of America’s.
On another level, it seemed as if Obama, a globalist, didn’t mind if people in the U.S. were to become infected. In his mind, there would be more pressure to find a “cure,” or at least a vaccine. But who knew how many would die in the process? At the time, we didn’t know. It could have been hundreds, or thousands, or more.
A poll from The Washington Post and ABC News showed that 67 percent of people supported a travel ban.
To make matters worse, Obama appointed Ron Klain, an Obama insider and Joe Biden chief-of-staff, as his “Ebola Czar.” He had no experience in the health field. He is now a leading critic of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus but outlets like CNBC fail to note that he worked for a president who knowingly permitted Ebola to take root on American soil.
In regard to coronavirus, Trump has broken decisively with the Obama policy and has forced the health care bureaucracy to come over to his way of thinking. His ban on travel from China, where the virus originated, has saved countless lives. In effect, Trump has been taming the bureaucracy to put America and Americans first.
I believe the president’s decision to accelerate the use of anti-malaria drugs to treat coronavirus reflects his skepticism of the bureaucracy’s heavy emphasis on vaccines to “solve” the problem of infectious disease. The failed development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine demonstrates that the Medical Deep State cannot be trusted and relied on in this case.
Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1981, more than 700,000 American lives have been lost to HIV. President Trump’s plan, “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America,” emphasizes drugs as treatments for HIV/AIDS. He promises hope – not false hope.
In the case of Ebola, the CDC quickly announced human testing of an “investigational vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease” and a so-called “fast-tracking” process was underway. It looked like the CDC was much faster in approving human trials of a vaccine than in stopping Ebola from coming into the U.S. in the first place. Ultimately, however, the first FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of Ebola wasn’t announced until the end of 2019. But questions remain and it has not been licensed for widespread use. It was another false hope that took too many years to develop through the bureaucracy. It was years too late.
Hundreds of people got neurological disorders and several dozen died from a swine flu vaccine before it was withdrawn in 1976. The CDC Director at that time, Dr. David J. Sencer, was fired. Yet, the CDC museum is named after him. In addition to the 1976 swine flu debacle, there were several vaccine scandals involving children during the Clinton administration. A hepatitis B vaccine was withdrawn because it contained a toxic substance, and a vaccine against diarrhea was withdrawn because it, too, was dangerous to children.
As the feds scramble for another risky and mandatory vaccine, in the case of coronavirus, remember that Congress pass the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which created a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, for a reason. Vaccines can be dangerous and backfire.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons argues that “we need the right to try” alternative drugs and treatments, such as the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The group notes that an early version of these drugs may have been a key factor in General George Washington’s victory over the British in the Revolutionary War.
In the spirit of George Washington, President Trump is meeting the challenge.
Cliff Kincaid is president of America’s Survival, Inc. www.usasurvival.org.