No one is shocked that Nicolle Wallace and the MSNBC post-joint-address panel took issue with Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) response to President Biden’s address. Scott is articulate and optimistic about the promise and opportunities provided to all Americans and highlighted how the education and economic policies of the Democrats undermine the very systems that he credits with his success. That these messages come from a black Republican is deeply distressing to them.
Joy Reid said she was “shocked and a bit embarrassed” for Scott. Yet, she wasn’t remotely embarrassed to announce to the nation that she is fully vaccinated and still double-masks outdoors. Lawrence O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow were equally silly, adhering religiously to their preferred narratives. However, Wallace said something so ridiculous it bears a fact check.
The speech was delivered from a planet where facts don’t matter, which is where the current Republican Party resides, so it’s really not his fault. But it is his responsibility to get his facts straight. He said this, that Biden inherited a country that had already rounded the bend on COVID. Four thousand people a day were dying in January. I don’t know, again, on what planet we had rounded the bend. And Operation Warp Speed didn’t do anything to get a needle into an arm.
Clearly, Wallace knows nothing about the full scope or achievements of Operation Warp Speed. The fact is there would have been nothing to put into anyone’s arm until several years from now without it. As noted in a 60 Minutes interview on the project that aired on November 8, 2020, journalist David Martin stated the following:
While the rest of the country has been counting votes, an Army general named Gus Perna has been counting doses of vaccine. He’s in charge of Operation Warp Speed, the catchy title given to the crash program to inoculate 300 million Americans against the coronavirus by next spring.
For those of you longing to reclaim a semblance of your previous life, it may not seem all that speedy. But it is compared to the five to ten years it usually takes to field a new vaccine. Once approved it will not be a silver bullet. Just as with the annual flu shot, some of us will still get sick. But it should make enough people immune so that the virus runs out of places to go.
A month later, on December 11, 2020, the FDA issued the first Emergency Use Authorization on the Pfizer vaccine. Seven days later, the agency also issued an EUA for Moderna. The Trump administration had no idea which pharmaceutical companies would cross the finish line on approval first, so they agreed to purchase at least 100 million doses from the competing companies. With two approvals, that was enough to vaccinate 100 million Americans. This is almost double the amount need to vaccinate seniors 65 and older, the most at-risk population for severe illness and death from COVID-19.
Of course, the vaccines needed to be distributed, and the task force had a preliminary strategy that they then executed. The man responsible for implementing the plan was General Gus Perna. President Trump personally recruited him to the task force two months before the general’s scheduled retirement. In the 60 Minutes interview, Perna said if the distribution did not go off correctly, the buck stopped with him. Perna built the team, made up of Army supply-chain and procurement specialists from around the country. These are the same people who figure out how to supply troops in the field and are some of the best in the public or private sector.
The process was complicated by the two-dose regimen and the frigid temperatures they need to be stored at. Perna’s team had to figure out everything from how to ensure deep-freeze storage was available along with dry ice for the vaccine. They stockpiled all of the medical supplies and paired them with vaccines to ship to clinics. The FDA issued the EUA for Pfizer on December 11, and the first one administered to the public was given to critical-care nurse Sarah Lindsay in Long Island, New York, on December 14.
Between December 14 and Joe Biden’s inauguration, the daily vaccinations climbed to an average of over one million a day. On Inauguration Day, over 1.5 million doses were given. On the day Biden pledged to ensure 100 million vaccines in 100 days, the target was already achievable. The country had purchased 200 million doses, and we were averaging over a million a day.
At this point, the corner had been turned, whether Wallace likes it or not. The vaccines had been approved and purchased in sufficient quantity to vaccinate those at significant risk. The fact that the media measures the pandemic in positive tests rather than hospitalizations and deaths was always ridiculous—especially when the WHO advises that the tests are of limited value in isolation and are not diagnostic. Oddly, General Perna was retained by the Biden administration to manage the vaccine distribution process.
One could deduce this because Gen. Perna had been quite effective at getting needles into arms by Inauguration Day, despite the new administration’s rhetoric that even Dr. Anthony Fauci said was not true. In bashing Operation Warp Speed and lying about the results, the Biden administration and commentators such as Wallace don’t just insult President Trump—they insult some of the finest, hardest working, and most dedicated men and women in uniform. Gen. Perna was on track to retire before Trump tapped him to head up vaccine logistics. Wallace should be ashamed of her own fact-free narrative.
WATCH the full 60 Minutes interview: