If one could transform the taste of sour grapes into audio, it would sound very much like the voice of Andrew Cuomo. The governor of New York took a moment out from his book tour that celebrates his “leadership lessons” on COVID-19, where he presided over the highest number of deaths in any state, to complain about the ego of Donald Trump. Trump didn’t have anything to do with setting a record for new vaccines, Cuomo complained on the radio — the drug companies did that because they knew there’d be lots of money in it for them:
Cuomo accused Trump of stroking his own ego and the drug companies of prioritizing their wallets ahead of public health as the chief reasons behind accelerated coronavirus vaccine trials and results, despite the governor’s own attempts to control the vaccine’s anticipated distribution in New York until he gives it the all-clear.
“Why is it moving so fast? Two reasons: money and ego. The first drug company that has the vaccine, that is big money,” Cuomo argued on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning radio show Tuesday.
“You didn’t need Trump to tell the vaccine companies you should develop a vaccine. He had nothing to do with it. Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, they all know this is billions of dollars, whoever gets to the market first. So it’s in their economic interest to push this fast,” he argued, naming top pharmaceutical companies — Pfizer and Moderna — that have been conducting coronavirus drug trials since the spring and have released promising preliminary results for curing the deadly virus, showing over 90 percent efficacy. …
“President, it’s ego. On the way out the door he wants to be able to say, ‘I solved COVID because I discovered a vaccine. Nah, it’s all BS. He didn’t do anything,” Cuomo continued.
There may be people who are well positioned to criticize Trump for his ego, but … Andrew Cuomo ain’t one of them. Ever since racking up the worst and deadliest record of any governor on COVID-19, Cuomo has engaged in shameless self-promotion to convert himself into an expert on “leadership.” Remember Cuomo’s COVID Mountain poster in July?
Here is a high res version of the Cuomo pandemic poster he unveiled today. pic.twitter.com/3LlcewnuOV
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) July 13, 2020
And by the way, where is the independent review of nursing-home deaths under Cuomo’s order to send COVID-19 patients into them? The one that Cuomo keeps insisting isn’t necessary? Leadership lessons, indeed.
As it happens, Cuomo’s not just a laughable critic on inflated egos, he’s also wrong on the merits. Operation Warp Speed accelerated the vaccine process by taking the worries over investment off the table. No one knew at the beginning whether a vaccine was even possible, let alone cost effective to research and develop. The decision to apply a wartime-production paradigm was a brilliant choice that guaranteed pharmas a return on investment no matter what. The Trump administration’s decision to guarantee payment for hundreds of millions of doses up front meant that developers could use up all necessary resources and expedite development, just as wartime producers of weapons systems did in cost-plus contracting in World War II.
Prior to this, the fastest development time for a vaccine was four years, with the mumps vaccine in the early 1960s. We now have two vaccines in under a year, both with initial effectiveness estimates at >90% with only mild side effects. That doesn’t happen without the Operation Warp Speed model, which is obvious to everyone except those who can’t peek out over the top of their own ego.