Steve Sailer writes: “… if Trump really were the authoritarian strongman his haters claim he is and his fanboys hope he is, he would have done something about this, such as, at minimum, dispatch his SEC to warn Pfizer that if they don’t disclose results according to their published protocol, they will be sued. But that’s not who Trump is… Trump probably would have been re-elected if he’d made Pfizer follow its published protocol or let Moderna carry out its clinical trial on the kind of people who want to volunteer for clinical trials. But Trump failed at those tasks.”
* They would have lots of reasons not to announce it before the election. One of the super legitimate ones is to not have Trump turn their vaccines into a toxic highly partisan political issue like he did with hydroxychloroquine.
If the pharmaceutical companies hate Trump it’s certainly not because he did anything worthwhile to earn their hatred. There would be plenty that a real right wing populist would have done to do that, but that’s not Trump.
Overall I and I’m pretty sure Steve have no idea what is and isn’t typical in in drug trials. It’s kind of absurd to say that the delay (if there even was a delay) was definitely because of one thing or another without some kind of real smoking gun (e.g. an email laying out intent, not what Steve calls a smoking gun). The argument Steve is making is ultimately a probabilistic one that has to be built on a very deep foundation of background knowledge about the process.
“Earlier this month, Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University, and C. Reynold Verret, the president of Xavier University of Louisiana, issued a public letter announcing that they were participating in a Covid-19 vaccine trial. Kimbrough and Verret, both leaders of private, historically Black universities in New Orleans, encouraged their students, faculty, staff, and alumni to consider participating in the same trial or others like it…
Their message was in line with others from HBCU leaders and the Congressional Black Caucus. But their letter, because it was aimed in part at students, provoked outrage.
The HBCU leaders should not put students forward as experimental “lab rats,” parents, alumni, and others fumed in a torrent of social media comments that generated headlines in the local press. A prominent economist said they had contributed to the excessive recruitment of Black people for trials. Leaders of a Black church political group demanded that Kimbrough and Verret “immediately disclose if they are being paid to urge students to participate in the trials.”
* Sailer: Now, both StatNews and the New York Times have reported that Pfizer stopped processing nasal swabs from late October until the day after the election in order to not know if it were time to disclose the results of its clinical trial according to the protocol it had published.
Pfizer is free to offer evidence against what these two publications have stated. If you are aware of any evidence other than emphatic denials, please let us know.
* Rejoinder: My point is that I have no idea how unusual it is that they stopped processing nasal swabs, what their official explanation is, how reasonable that explanation is. Vaccine testing and approval is an area I know very little about.
Now I know their official justification: because they wanted to change the benchmark to one more rigorous and didn’t want to cross the threshold of the previous benchmark until they got permission to do that change. Is that unusual? I have no idea. Is that explanation bullshit? I have no idea. I don’t have the background knowledge to make that call.
* What’s particularly bizarre about the account of Moderna’s decision to slow down its trial is that it reports that it was the head of Operation Warp Speed itself, Slaoui, who was putting pressure on it to do so.
Is this really accurate? Was Trump unable even to get Slaoui on board to get the vaccine out as soon as possible? Was Slaoui himself pressured by other forces to push for tests on minorities at the expense of speed?
* Mr. Sailer is assuming here:
1. there was a subset of voters who were awaiting news about a potential vaccine under Trump’s watch, and were ready to change their mind the moment there was an announcement;
2. there was a subset of voters who up until the election day were uncertain who they were going to vote for, and needed “good news”, in particular on the vaccine front, and decided not to vote for Trump because he failed to deliver.
The problem with Sailer’s peddling of this vaccine political conspiracy theory, while possible, is that there had been tens of millions of mail-in votes already casted before Pfizers alleged malfeasance, and thus they would have been unaffected compared to those going in person to the polls. More than likely, people had already made up their mind about who they were going to vote for.