Overnight Health Care: US to donate 500 million Pfizer doses to other countries: reports | GOP’s attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message | Federal appeals court blocks Missouri abortion ban
Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care. The Brood X cicadas are now a threat to national security; a swarm in the White House press plane’s engine caused the aircraft to be grounded for several hours last night. Meanwhile, a single bug was able to cause a car crash in Ohio.
Today: The GOP attacks on Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Fauci urges vaccination to protect against Delta variant | White House: ‘Small fraction’ of COVID-19 vaccine doses will be unused Fauci urges vaccination against COVID-19 variant spreading to US from India Fox host claims Fauci lied to Congress, calls for prosecution MORE are increasing, the U.S. will purchase and donate 500 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, and a federal appeals court blocked Missouri’s abortion ban.
We’ll start with vaccines:
US will donate 500 million Pfizer doses to other countries: reports
The Biden administration plans to buy 500 million additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to donate to other countries, according to multiple reports.
Biden is expected to announce the plans during the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in the United Kingdom this week, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. The president told reporters earlier in the day that he would announce a global vaccine strategy during the trip.
According to The New York Times, the 500 million doses would be sent to about 100 countries over the next year, with 200 million doses sent this year and the remaining 300 million being distributed by mid-2022.
Biden has been under pressure to do more for global vaccine access: His planned commitment of 500 million doses could increase pressure on other G-7 members to make their own commitments to bring the world closer to that goal.
The White House last week said it would send 80 million doses to countries in need by the end of June, and 25 million of them — including doses from Pfizer—as soon as possible.
GOP’s attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message
Former President TrumpDonald TrumpJack Ciattarelli wins GOP primary in New Jersey governor’s race House Judiciary Democrats call on DOJ to reverse decision on Trump defense Democratic super PAC targets Youngkin over voting rights MORE and his GOP allies have stepped up attacks on Anthony Fauci, seizing on portions of his emails and a renewed interest in the origins of the coronavirus pandemic to demonize the nation’s top infectious disease doctor.
The attacks, which are largely based on out-of-context comments and draw unsubstantiated conclusions, gloss over the Trump administration’s role in the nation’s early failures to respond to the pandemic.
Instead, conservative lawmakers and media personalities are lionizing the former president as someone betrayed by his advisers. Fauci is painted as a liar who misled both Trump and the American people, and is now facing calls for his resignation, prosecution, or both.
The effort to rehabilitate Trump at Fauci’s expense thrusts the nation’s COVID-19 response back into the center of the political arena. It also comes as most Americans are ready to move on from the coronavirus pandemic, with declining infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Vulnerable time: But the gains have come because of vaccinations, and health experts warn the GOP effort could sow distrust in the Biden administration at a vulnerable time. The nation’s vaccination effort has slowed to a crawl with a growing partisan divide in vaccination rates between red states and blue states. Public health experts say the nation needs widespread immunity to prevent a resurgence this fall, and trusted messengers are needed to convince many of the remaining people to get vaccinated.
Fauci addressed the rising GOP attacks on him; they are really ‘attacks on science’
Fauci weighed in on the escalating GOP attacks during an appearance on MSNBC with Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddColorado Democrat: Fear of Trump, desire for power ‘overriding’ patriotism in some Republicans Sunday shows – Infrastructure, Jan. 6 commission dominate Former deputy national security advisor: ‘I think we can’ find COVID-19’s origin MORE.
“It’s very dangerous, Chuck, because a lot of what you’re seeing as attacks on me quite frankly are attacks on science, because all of the things that I have spoken about consistently from the very beginning, have been fundamentally based on science,” he said.
Republican attacks on Fauci have escalated in recent days following the release of many of his emails from early in the pandemic, with Republicans arguing Fauci was not forthcoming about the possibility of a lab leak as the origin of the virus, and that he changed his mind about the effectiveness of masks.
Fauci breaks down the change in mask guidance: For example, he pointed to criticism that “he should be fired because he in the beginning changed his mind about masks,” initially saying the general public did not need masks, before later saying they did.
Fauci said he was simply following the science that was known at the time, along with the surgeon general and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Initially, he said there was thought to be a shortage of masks, there was no evidence masks worked outside of a hospital setting with medical-grade masks and the extent of asymptomatic transmission was not known.
When the understanding on those three factors changed, the recommendation changed, Fauci said.
Senate crafts Pelosi alternative on drug prices
Lowering drug prices is a top priority for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats try to pin down Manchin on voting rights The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by Facebook – Senate releases Jan. 6 report Manchin unmoved after ‘constructive’ meeting with civil rights groups MORE (D-Calif.), but there’s also an alternative effort underway among Senate Democrats, amid doubts about whether the far-reaching House bill can get all 50 Senate Democrats on board.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate passes long-delayed China bill Shareholders to pressure Thomson Reuters on cutting ties with ICE Some US billionaires had years where they paid no taxes: report MORE (D-Ore.) is taking the lead in working on the proposal, but Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden talks reconciliation with Schumer as infrastructure negotiations falter Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican White House: Biden considers Manchin a friend despite latest policy break MORE’s (D-N.Y.) staff has also been meeting with outside groups and is engaged on the issue, according to people familiar with the conversations.
Some moderate Democrats have raised concerns with how far the House bill, known as H.R. 3, goes in cracking down on drug prices, and the Senate bill is expected to be less far-reaching, though the details are far from finalized.
“I’m spending a lot of time talking to senators,” Wyden told reporters on Tuesday. “I spent a fair amount of time during recess trying to find an approach that produces some real common ground.”
Moderate names to watch: In addition to the usual question marks of Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrats try to pin down Manchin on voting rights OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm On The Money: Biden ends infrastructure talks with Capito, pivots to bipartisan group | Some US billionaires had years where they paid no taxes: report | IRS to investigate leak MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm On The Money: Biden ends infrastructure talks with Capito, pivots to bipartisan group | Some US billionaires had years where they paid no taxes: report | IRS to investigate leak Biden talks reconciliation with Schumer as infrastructure negotiations falter MORE (D-Ariz.), drug pricing advocates have focused on moderate Democrats including Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSanders drops bid to block Biden’s Israel arms sale Sanders push to block arms sale to Israel doomed in Senate Schumer tactics on China bill reveal broader trade strategy MORE (N.J.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperBipartisan infrastructure talks on life support Bipartisanship is dead — Republicans killed it Bipartisan group of senators introduces surface transportation bill MORE (Del.).
Menendez, who represents a state home to many pharmaceutical companies, voted against a measure to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices in the Senate Finance Committee in 2019.
Federal appeals court blocks sweeping Missouri abortion ban
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a sweeping Missouri law that would place tight restrictions on abortion in the state in a ruling Wednesday
The federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s injunction of the law, which would ban the procedure after eight weeks of pregnancy. The three-judge panel ruled that Missouri’s law amounted to a ban, rather than a restriction, on the procedure.
“[T]here is nothing an individual in Missouri could lawfully do to obtain an abortion at or after the applicable gestational age cut-off,” the court wrote.
Reactions: Abortion rights advocates hailed the ruling as a victory as a slate of GOP-led states across the country move forward with restrictions on the procedure.
“For now, we celebrate our continued ability to provide safe, legal abortion at the last remaining clinic in Missouri,” said Yamelsie Rodríguez, president of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.
Sue Liebel, the state policy director of pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, said the organization was “disappointed” with the ruling.
“Missouri lawmakers acted on the will of the people when they enacted some of the nation’s strongest protections for the unborn and their mothers in 2019,” she said.
Big picture: Republicans in several states have prioritized passing abortion restrictions in the hopes of getting the conservative-majority Supreme Court to rule on the issue and overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Supreme Court decided to hear arguments on a Mississippi law that virtually outlaws all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
What we’re reading
The highly contagious Delta variant is on the rise in the U.S. (NPR)
Pharma funded more than 2,400 state lawmaker campaigns in 2020, new STAT analysis finds (Stat)
Prescription drug prices increased twice the inflation rate of US economy in 2020, AARP report finds (USA Today)
State by state
D.C., Md. hospitals will require employees to get vaccinated against covid-19 (Washington Post)
178 health care workers suspended from Houston Methodist hospital system for refusing COVID-19 vaccination (USA Today)
Targeting adolescents, more COVID vaccines headed to NJ pediatricians and family practices (NorthJersey.com)