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Despite war in Ukraine bumping COVID-19 from the headlines, the virus continues to spread. Shortly after former President Barack Obama tweeted about his own bout with illness, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have also disclosed their infections, ironically even as they continue to promote vaccines.
Getting COVID-19 out of the news is a relief for President Biden, who is failing to deliver on his campaign promise to “crush” the virus. The government’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief fund is running out. After House Democrats removed $15 billion for COVID relief from a larger government funding package, the White House is predicting “severe consequences” without additional funding. Meanwhile, the consumer price index showed inflation rising 7.9 percent over the last year, hitting a four-decade high, and the national debt is over $30 trillion.In his recent op-ed for the Washington Examiner,
Dr. Pierre Kory argues that the White House’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan needs to adopt a more holistic strategy that includes safe and effective generic treatments along with a public campaign encouraging healthy behaviors:
While early treatment is the best outcome for any illness, prevention is an even better strategy. The White House should take a page out of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s playbook and encourage Americans to eat well, exercise, lose weight and ensure sufficient Vitamin D (and other) stores. These factors demonstrably strengthen natural immunity and have been shown to prevent serious COVID outcomes. Nearly 40 percent of American adults aged 20 and over are obese, meaning millions more people are at higher risk of hospitalization and death from COVID.
As Dr. Kory has written about extensively, fluvoxamine is a cheap, safe, widely available FDA-approved generic medicine that is proven effective against COVID-19 in multiplegold-standard randomized controlled trials. Yet it is absent from the White House plan. The only drug mentioned is, of course, Paxlovid, Pfizer’s experimental anti-viral, which the government is paying a premium to provide.
The federal government is spending about $530 for each five-day course of Paxlovid. After the drug was granted emergency use authorization in December 2021, the Biden Administration agreed to an advance purchase of 10 million packs of Paxlovid at a cost of about $5.3 billion.Despite the high price tag, Paxlovid comes with a catch: it takes more than six months to produce.
From the beginning, the drug was only available in very limited quantities. In December 2021, an initial batch of 65,000 courses was made available to the United States. At the same time, new U.S. COVID cases were hitting their all-time highs, more than 265,000 per day. While supply has caught up to demand as the omicron variant fades, questions remain about Paxlovid’s readiness during future COVID spikes.
Moreover, Paxlovid was approved after a single trial with questionable results. It cannot be taken by those on certain antidepressants, anti-seizure, anti-psychotic, cholesterol, blood pressure, and several other classes of medications. This exclusionary criterion encompasses a significant portion of the overall population given almost half of all adults in the United States have some type of cardiovascular disease.
No matter. Biden’s brainchild for mass distributing this drug is a new “Test to Treat” initiative, which essentially gives pharmacies the ability to administer Paxlovid with a positive COVID-19 test. Even the American Medical Association has sounded the alarm over this, a government prescribing program that removes qualified doctors from the equation.Relying solely on Paxlovid, given its costs, questions about effectiveness and supply and knowing that a large portion of the population cannot take it.
It is a recipe for (more) failure. Sadly, it’s just another example of the Biden Administration putting profits before public health. Dr. Kory sums it up:
You can read his full op-ed here.