Accountable Pharma files Freedom of Information Act request, follows requests sent to 14 states
Politico: ‘The crash landing of ‘Operation Warp Speed’’; Trump, Azar hand incoming administration major mess to clean up
The Trump-Azar Operation Warp Speed legacy: Politicizing vaccine development, failing to protect taxpayers, falling on their faces in the home stretch
FLASHBACK: “Lack of Transparency, Conflicts of Interest Surround Trump’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ Vaccine Development Program”
Washington, DC – Today, Accountable Pharma announced the filing of a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding any correspondence surrounding the announcement by Secretary Alex Azar that a “reserve” of vaccine doses would be released to the states. Shortly afterwards it was revealed that there was no reserve to release and that the states that had made distribution plans based on that assurance from Sec. Azar were out of luck. This filing follows requests sent by Accountable.US to 14 states across the country for correspondence with the federal government related to related to shortfalls in vaccine allocation.
“This is an embarrassing, deadly, but sadly all-too-predictable finish to an Operation Warp Speed effort that succeeded in pouring billions of dollars into the coffers of drug companies, but failed dismally when it came to coordinating vaccine distribution and actually getting shots into patients’ arms,” said Eli Zupnick, spokesman for Accountable Pharma. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the former drug company executives Trump put in charge of Operation Warp Speed prioritized boosting drug companies over the less profitable, but absolutely critical, work of coordinating distribution. But people deserve answers regarding how this was bungled so badly, why Secretary Azar lied to states about additional doses ‘in reserve,’ and how deep the hole is that the incoming Administration is going to have to climb out of.”
Accountable Pharma has been scrutinizing Operation Warp Speed since it launched. We’ve paid particular attention to the lack of transparency and shady contracting, including those connected to senior leaders who were brought on as contractors and exempted from standard ethics and disclosure rules. We’ve highlighted Trump’s politicization of vaccines and pressuring of government scientists and public health experts, along with the ensuing erosion of public trust. We’ve called out drug company insiders for dumping stocks after big announcements involving government funding. And we’ve laid out some of what we think the incoming Biden Administration should do to fix what went wrong.
Additional background – What the incoming Administration faces: Eroded trust, shady contracts that fail to protect taxpayers, and a distribution debacle
The Trump Administration eroded trust in their vaccine development process by continually politicizing the issue and pressuring government scientists and public health experts. President Trump personally attacked and bullied government scientists, calling them members of the “deep state” and explicitly accusing them of delaying a vaccine in order to hurt him politically. And his political appointees followed his lead, most notably in the case of hydroxychloroquine, when Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn caved to President Trump’s pressure by issuing an emergency use authorization for the unproven treatment after President Trump called it a “game changer” and explicitly called for it to be approved, which then had to be revoked in the face of continued evidence of the drug’s dangers.
READ – Accountable.US’s July report: “Operation Warp Speed at Two Months: $4 Billion for Drug Companies, Zero Assurances for Patients and Taxpayers”
USA Today editorial: “… the vaccine rollout is being hamstrung by unnecessary bureaucracy and complexity.”
Business Insider: “State leaders say Operation Warp Speed overpromised and underdelivered, setting them up to fail in the vaccine rollout”
Stat: “…last minute changes and funding shortfalls”: “…the challenges facing the Biden team are numerous. States have still not received billions of dollars in supplemental funding appropriated by Congress, hospitals and state health departments are warning of staffing shortages, and vaccination appointment scheduling systems across the country are crashing daily. The Biden team will also have to contend with massive, last-minute changes to the existing vaccine rollout that the Trump administration is throwing out in its final days.”