If you’re one of the few countries storming ahead with a vaccination program, you’d think this would be something to cheer. But not all countries see it that way. Both the UK and the US rank in the top five countries for total doses given per 100 residents, according to The Spectator’s vaccine tracker: 27 and 19 respectively. Yet in the UK, the government is set to crawl its way out of lockdown (currently the most restrictive in the developed world), setting out a roadmap today that will see retail, hospitality and ability to socialize take longer to come back than it did last spring, when zero vaccines were on offer. Meanwhile, in America, a game of denial is taking place, with suggestions the country has had very little success at all.
Last week Vice President Kamala Harris told Axios in their HBO documentary series that the administration was ‘starting from scratch’ on vaccine rollout, with ‘no national strategy or plan’ for distribution in place. This remark doesn’t gel with America’s current status of having administered the highest number of vaccine doses worldwide. Yet yesterday Dr Anthony Fauci defended the Vice President’s comments, suggesting former President Donald Trump had left a ‘vague’ plan for vaccine distribution.
Headlines from several weeks ago confirm that the stockpile of jabs that were promised by the previous administration was nowhere to be found. But, as is frequently the case, a deep-dive into the vaccine rollout process reveals a more nuanced story. The Washington Post reports the Trump administration originally touted these vaccine reserves when its strategy was to delay second doses; but a revised assessment of vaccine manufacturing increased confidence that more jabs would be rolling in, and a decision was made to change policy and distribute the vaccines for second doses.
A more detailed examination of Fauci’s comments paint a different picture as well: ‘obviously it wasn’t that nothing was done,’ he said, ‘because we developed the vaccine, we got them manufactured and they were shipped.’ Quite critical accomplishments, which are being reflected in the international vaccine race.
It is, of course, possible to acknowledge President Trump’s missteps and mishandling of the COVID crisis, and also recognize that America’s vaccine initiative has so far been, on the whole, a huge success. This was not Harris’s narrative in her interview aired last weekend, which focused more on the politics: that is, landing blows on the opposition. Still, Dr Fauci has called for the commentariat to give Harris ‘a break’ — a recurring theme when it comes to America’s new Vice President.
In The Spectator’s March magazine edition, published this week, I raise concern over the amount of scrutiny that is — or is not — being applied to Vice President Harris. With a 50/50 split in the Senate, the VP is set to be the deciding vote for major pieces of legislation, giving Harris a huge amount of power and influence in Congress. She is not some spare advocate for the Biden administration, but an integral part of its messaging and strategy. Yet Kamalamania seems to have swept the media, with growing reluctance to report not just on her questionable track-record as attorney general in California, but on her actions while serving in the White House.
Case in point: Axios deleted the first tweet it released of Harris’s interview, in which the outlet fact-checked her remarks against comments from Fauci a month before, saying the rollout was ‘certainly…not starting from scratch.’ It has since been reshared, with only the VP’s comments.
Glossing over Harris’s political past is bad enough. But attempts in her current role to play down the country’s vaccine success story — or cherry-pick from the full picture — should be met with intense scrutiny; not free passes, deleted tweets, or ‘a break’.