Biden Admin Jake Johnson Pandemic

Biden Urged to Fire Covid Response Chief Over ‘Damning’ Failures

Zients has failed to provide the materials necessary to improve the U.S. response, or the guidance necessary to keep the pandemic under control.
White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients briefs reporters on April 13, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

President Joe Biden is coming under growing pressure to fire White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients—a former private equity executive with no public health background—as the administration continues to face criticism over its slow-moving and inadequate efforts to combat Covid-19.

Watchdog groups have long warned that Zients is not qualified to take on the massive task of leading the federal government’s pandemic response given both his lack of scientific and medical experience as well as his record in the private sector, where his firm invested in a company accused of exploitative surprise billing.

Early critics of Biden’s decision to appoint Zients to the key post believe their fears have been realized during the Omicron surge, which has laid bare the administration’s failure to prepare for a highly contagious variant that experts warned was all but inevitable.

Writing for The American Prospect, Daniel Boguslaw of the Revolving Door Project (RDP) noted Thursday that “amid an entirely predictable viral mutation and a winter surge, Zients has failed to provide the materials necessary to improve the U.S. response, or the guidance necessary to keep the pandemic under control.”

“He’s proven himself not up to the task,” he added, “and Biden should relieve him of his duties.”

Boguslaw, a researcher at RDP—which criticized Biden’s selection of Zients in December 2020—argued specifically that the pandemic response czar “has for the most part abdicated” his responsibility to utilize the Defense Production Act to ensure the widespread availability of high-quality masks and coronavirus tests, authority that Biden delegated to Zients.

“He could have spent the year mobilizing against a shared enemy in the virus, stockpiling enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and pharmaceutical products to protect the public,” Boguslaw wrote.

But as RDP’s Timi Iwayemi observed in an op-ed for Common Dreams last month, “Zients has prioritized cooperation with corporations rather than exercising a democratic government’s rights to protect the people.”

“Globally,” Iwayemi added, “Zients has emphasized vaccine charity over equity, all but ensuring that there will never be enough jabs in arms worldwide to prevent ever more mutations of the fast-changing virus.”

Boguslaw echoed that critique, arguing that “most damning among Zients’ failures is his refusal to allocate resources to aid vaccination efforts abroad.”

“As Vice News reported this week, Tito’s Vodka has donated more toward efforts to mass-produce an open-source, global vaccine than the White House,” Boguslaw wrote. “Global vaccine distribution is not only a humanitarian requirement, but also a critical step to preventing the development of new variants. But doing so would have required angering powerful forces in corporate America.”

Calls for Zients’ ouster come amid intensifying outrage at the Biden administration’s overall pandemic response—anger that has hardly been limited to Zients.

In recent weeks, as Common Dreams has reported, nurses, union leaders, and public health experts have expressed dismay over confusing and potentially dangerous recommendations emerging from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which last month loosened its isolation guidelines following a lobbying push from corporate America.

The administration has also allowed emergency workplace standards to lapse, leaving healthcare workers and others with weaker on-the-job protections as daily coronavirus cases remain at record levels. New figures from Johns Hopkins University show that the seven-day average for newly reported cases in the U.S. topped 800,000 for the first time on Saturday.

In response to surging infections, the Biden administration recently launched a program under which U.S. households will be able to order free rapid coronavirus tests. On Thursday, amid pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other progressive lawmakers, Biden said the administration will also soon announce a plan to distribute free high-quality masks to people who request them.

While welcoming such steps, experts and observers have lamented the administration’s sluggishness in reacting to new pandemic developments, which has left people across the U.S. to fend for themselves while the White House plays catch-up. In October, the Biden administration reportedlyrejected a plan to distribute free rapid Covid-19 tests for the holidays, hindering the nation’s response to the winter surge in the months that followed.

As recently as early December, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki mocked the idea of mailing coronavirus tests to households.

People who order tests under the new government program will likely have to wait roughly two weeks for them to arrive. And Biden didn’t offer a timeline for the free mask program, which he announced weeks after experts began warning that widely used cloth masks are not sufficient to ward off Omicron.

In a mid-December interview, Vice President Kamala Harris attempted to defend the administration’s belated actions by claiming the White House “didn’t see Delta coming” and “didn’t see Omicron coming.”

But former federal vaccine scientist Rick Bright disputed Harris’ narrative, writing on Twitter that he personally warned the Biden transition team in December 2020 that “variants were coming and we needed plans and action immediately.”

“They all knew,” he added.

Céline Gounder, an infectious disease specialist who also advised the Biden transition, attested that “we absolutely saw variants coming.”

Looking ahead, Gounder told the Washington Post on Thursday that “there will be another [variant]—and we might as well learn our lesson and prepare for the next one appropriately.”

“Every time, we’re sort of like, ‘Well, why bother because this is the last surge,'” she said. “And I think that’s completely the wrong way to think about it.”

Jake Johnson

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

23 comments

  1. so, Biden’s sorry oversight extended to one unqualified asshole. How sweet for us!]

  2. Boy oh boy. Imagine an idea so imbecilic & delusional that the “govt” can control a highly infectious respiratory virus. Never been done before, never will be. It’s now in its endemic stage. Everyone will get it and its not going away, just like the common flu which kills 700 000 per year.

    Remember when they said that the “vaccines” were the way out? That they had 96% efficacy.? That they were safe & effective? How’s that working out. Some of the most highly vaxxed nations in the world {plus “booster no 3 and no 4 in Israel} now have the higest number of cases, hospitilisations & deaths amongst the “vaccinated”. I won’t even mention the highly under-reported vaxx deaths and injuries, all for a tinpot virus with a 99.98% survival rate. Its the low hanging fruit that are dying {Elderly +70, obese/overweight and those with 1 or more comorbidities}.

    Whether your vaxxed or unvaxxed makes not 1 iota of a difference, just like thinking wearing of a cloth mask will stop miniuscule air borne particles. Masks are the equivelent of a cyclone fence trying to stop mosquitos. Still, if you want to get “vaxxed” and take your 50th booster go right ahead. That’s freedom of choice. The “unvaxxed” who are a minority in most western countries pose no threat to the “vaxxed”. How could they IF YOUR “vaccine” works? Its like me saying i’m glad i got my TB & Cholera vaccines 40 years ago and im so glad that later on i contracted TB & Cholera 3 times, but they were less serious.

    The evidence is clearly in after 2 years. This has been one of the greatest criminal scandals and failure of government policy in human history. The “pandemic” has ended, its now endemic. The real pandemic of vaxx injuries, deaths, suicides, bankruptcies, depression, poverty, debt, violence , missed cancer screenings and surgery now begins. The “cure” will, without any doubt, cause multiple times the deaths than the actual virus itself.

    1. The US is abysmal relative to other countries in Covid death rate, 19th from the bottom of over 200 countries, over three times the global Covid death rate average.
      Public Health is largely a STATES’ authority in the US; some have done well. Covid has always been a disease of the Elderly, the majority of Covid deaths globally are over age 80.
      Increasing deaths in the vaccinated (~30% Covid deaths in the vaccinated in Singapore which had a spectacular Covid response relative to the US, again almost all deaths, vaccinated or not, in the Elderly. Vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna double jab and now boosted only counted as “vaccinated” there) protected about 90% (not the nonsensical 99.9% that the CDC and Biden administration peddles). If under age 70, Ioannides (WHO Bulletin, 2021) Covid only has a 0.05% infection fatality rate UNVACCINATED (99.95% protected by youth, immunity and increasingly by exposure to the virus and resultant immunity).
      The UK is talking about dropping all Covid restrictions (except for protecting the most vulnerable): “The current measures, which include work from home guidance, mandatory face masks and use of Covid passports, are due to expire in less than two weeks, and it is expected that the Prime Minister will not renew”.
      “….former chairman of the Vaccines Taskforce Dr Clive Dix called for an end to mass Covid vaccinations, after saying the Omicron variant is “a relatively mild virus” and to continue vaccinating people again and again is “now a waste of time”. ” Dix did call for continued targeted vaccination of the vulnerable.
      Hopefully the Omicron variant will save us from our insane politicians and the politicization of what should have been a simple Public Health scientific, medical issue. I have lived in two other countries; the American for-profit medical system is a joke!

      1. Exactly. Such is the corruption on a world scale. It should have been handled like that at the start. Isolate or advise the elderly and vulnerable. Let them get vaccinated if they so choose. Still, we know that C19 is a smokescreen and an enabler for a much harsher, sinister agenda.

    2. Of course he should be fired. Call me crazy, but a pandemic response chief probably should have some public health background. Biden’s administration was pretty strong in the beginning I thought, but they’ve been subtly really downplaying the virus in the last few months, which is appalling and it’s partly to blame for the high hospitalization and case rate. But I can’t blame Biden for all of the people who aren’t vaccinated and don’t wear high quality masks, etc.

    3. The flu does not kill 700,000 people per year in the US. That is just plain wrong.

      1. I meant the World of course, there is a world outside the crumbling, corrupt Empire of the US. In 2017 there was a particularly virulent strain of the flu that killed 1.3 million worldwide. Not a peep from anyone, no mask mandate, no compulsory flu vaccine, no nothing.

    4. “Whether your vaxxed or unvaxxed makes not 1 iota of a difference”

      that’s fox quality disinformation. wow. I took this source seriously at first. infection rates are lower when fully vaxed, cases much milder on average,, hospitals are crammed with mostly unvaxed patients despite their bring a minority in the USA for ex, and case fatality rates rates are many times higher, according to any real sites like John’s Hopkins, any vaguely honest got, a well as us agencies.

      I don’t know how conscious these people are of their misleading cherry-picking of data etc. but they’re transparent to scientists following it closely. for ex, vaxes fade. ok? a confused friend claimed to me a few weeks ago that the omicron case fatality rate in the USA is miuscule…something this writer bought into as well. they’re not.

      the observed case fatality rate from any new disease starts out 0. the reason is, it takes time to due.

      you have to plot deaths on top of cases with the dates shifted by the lag time to see cause and effect compared. the nyt has begun to show that now that omicrion has been here long enough.

      ignorant and biased pseudo scientists are everywhere.

      if you want to tel. the difference, ask them people to cure disease, or predict an eclipse, or build a smart phone. they are then utterly unmasked because they can’t do anything at all. except kill with their foolish statements.

      1. Oh yeh. Remember when they said that the first 2 shots offered 96% efficacy.? Now its booster no 3 for final immunity. 3rd time lucky perhaps. They’re onto their 4th one now in Israel. Israel is at 90%+ vaxxed and triple jabbed, with the higest case, hospitilisation and death rates. same with Gibraltar, Portugal, Ireland etc etc.

        Remember when they said that the “vaccination” would stop you getting it and transmitting it, keep you out of hospital, keep you from dying? Look up the death & hospitilisation rates in the above countries. Here in Sydney Australia {92% double vaxxed} there were 33 deaths today; 22 double vaxxed, 3 triple vaxxed and 8 unvaxxed.

        At the end of the day, you were sold a faulty bill of goods. In fact 16 000 epidemiologists, cardiologists & immunologists recently signed the Barrington Declaration in Italy condeming the insanity of mass vaccinations. They are clearly not working. Anecdotal evidence suggests in fact that your natural immune sytem will be further damaged from booster after booster. You may well in fact be boosted to the eyeballs for the covid, but your natural immune sytem will be thaty asleep and destroyed, youll end up dying from the common cold.

        They should just “vaccinate” {Mrna gene therapy technology STILL under emergency use with no long term studies} the vulnerable. Leave the rest of us ALONE! How can we be of danger to anyone? I mean doesnt your “vaccine” work or do I need to take one for yours to work? I’ve been traditionally vaccinated for TB & Diptheria & measles. That would be like me saying ; ” Gee i’m glad i got vaccinated for the above and later I got infected with all of them twice, but it was less serious”. Now THAT is a REAL vaccine, not like these useless, harmful and leaky Mrna jabs.

        You may want to broaden your channels of information. Start with the Barrington Declaration and stop listening to the corrupt Govts, Bureaucrats and Drug companies that are forcing a useless, harmful, experimental “vaccine” on masses of people that don’t require it.

      2. @Robert antonuci
        You’re the one spewing false information. Getting vaccinated has no effect on whether you get COVID-19, and has only a very small effect, that quickly wanes and disappears after 3 months of being fully vaccinated, on whether you transmit it if you get it. Additionally, there are no actual known U.S. deaths from the omicron variant, despite lying propaganda trying to do so (for example, they reported the so-called first U.S. death from omicron in Texas, only to have to admit that the person HAD COVID-19 when he died, but he DID NOT DIE FROM COVID-19.

        You’re just part of the hysterical propaganda that attempts to keep people scared all the time. The rich and their corporations want people constantly scared so they’ll buy more stuff, and so they’ll accede to their police state and be easier to control. Whether you benefit from this propaganda or are just one of the scared people repeating it, you’re part of the problem.

    5. “Whether your vaxxed or unvaxxed makes not 1 iota of a difference”

      that’s fox quality disinformation. wow. I took this source seriously at first. infection rates are lower when fully vaxed, cases much milder on average,, hospitals are crammed with mostly unvaxed patients despite their bring a minority in the USA for ex, and case fatality rates rates are many times higher, according to any real sites like Johns Hopkins, any vaguely honest gvt, a well as us agencies.

      I don’t know how conscious these people are of their misleading cherry-picking of data etc. but they’re transparent to scientists following it closely. for ex, vaxes fade. ok? you don’t count people as vaxed unless they’re current.

      a confused friend claimed to me a few weeks ago that the omicron case fatality rate in the USA is minuscule…something this writer bought into as well. they’re not.

      the observed case fatality rate from any new disease starts out 0. the reason is, it takes time to die.

      you have to plot deaths on top of cases with the dates shifted by the lag time, to see cause and effect compared. the nyt has begun to show that, now that omicrion has been here long enough.

      ignorant and biased pseudo scientists are everywhere.

      if you want to tell the difference, ask these people to cure disease, or predict an eclipse, or build a smart phone. they are then utterly unmasked because they can’t do anything at all. except kill with their foolish statements.

    6. I can’t let this go without a response.
      My mother’s entire family was wiped out by TB in the 40’s and 50’s.
      Except for my mom, who spent 18 months flat on her back in a san.
      So, your cavalier attitude, really pi$$es me off.
      Contagion is a real thing.
      Frankly, I hope that you contract some illnesses that upend your life a bit.
      Might temper that know it all attitude of yours.
      Glad to know that you think that the elderly are expendable.
      Who needs the wisdom of lived experience, right?

      1. @Fishbone
        I don’t know to whom you responded, but here’s my response to you. I suggest you take some deep breaths and read the comments a lot more carefully:

        1. I don’t think that anyone here denied that contagious diseases exist nor that COVID-19 is contagious. The issue is the lies and propaganda being spewed by the media and politicians in service of the pharmaceutical industry that everyone needs vaccinations every 5 minutes. That industry is making an absolute fortune off these vaccines. The undeniable FACTS are that 1) vaccines don’t prevent anyone from getting any of the COVID-19 variants after the alpha variant, which no longer exists to any substantial extent; 2) vaccines don’t have any substantial effect on transmission of COVID-19; 3) the combination of facts 1) and 2) means that whether a person chooses to get vaccinated is strictly a personal choice; and 4) people should not be forced or coerced to get vaccinated for moral and ethical reasons in addition to Nos. 1-3, because people have a right to their own bodily autonomy.

        2. The point about older people is that they are the ones who are by far the most at-risk from COVID-19, not that they’re expendable. It is older people who need to be vaccinated (in addition to other at-risk people, starting with obese people), and they’re the ones who need to be isolated. It’s totally wrong to shut down the entire society or to coerce everyone to get vaccinated for specific groups of at-risk people, because those shut-downs and restrictions harm everyone.

        3. In an evil society like this one, the vast majority of older people are just as foolish as younger people in things that really matter. Yes, experience CAN build wisdom, but it doesn’t where you’re on the wrong track to begin with. Sure, older people will have some wisdom regarding the more mundane aspects of life, but I wouldn’t at all look to them for the more important aspects like spirituality or right living.

  3. Omicron is far milder than the previous variants, and is basically a cold for the vast majority of people who get it. The fact that there are a lot of cases is irrelevant; hospitalizations are less that 25% per 10,000 case compared to the delta variant, and are at 1.8 out of 10,000 cases. That’s hardly anything to be concerned about. But hysterical propaganda like this article brainwashes people into thinking that omicron is some severe danger that’s going to kill us all.

    1. @Jeff: The hospitals in Texas are overcrowded with cases. Get your facts straight.

      1. @Prem Chand
        My facts ARE straight. Our sets of facts are not mutually exclusive. Omicron is much more infectious than delta, so even though the percentage of people being hospitalized by it is much lower, many more people are getting it.

        You also have to realize that if you’re not old, obese, or have some other relevant comorbidity, the omicron variant is very highly unlikely to make you any more sick than if you have a cold. There will be exceptions as there are with anything, but the chances of a person not in the groups I mentioned getting seriously ill from contracting omicron are really slim.

  4. Quarantine measures were relaxed for the Thanksgiving-to-New Year shopping season, with predictable results. As I understand it, the vaccines don’t stop the SPREAD of the virus, just make the symptoms less severe for most.

  5. Ha! Here’s brouhaha that’s more about red herrings than fall guys.

    This sample of spin misdirects attention onto criticism of the Biden administration, with the buck passed on to Zients, “over its slow-moving and inadequate efforts to combat Covid-19” (in the war on/of bioterror), and away from how the Covid-1984 agenda for fast-tracking the general population into universal ‘vaccination’ (genetic and digital engineering), including executive (tyrannical) imposition of mandates, has met with setback and pushback.

    And to reduce unprecedented psyops and propaganda pushes for this false flag scamdemic to the usual political puppets now fronting for this global capitalist coup, involving coordination among ruling institutions of medicine (pharma), military, finance, media, tech, education, and more, reflects further failure from dubious and damnable ‘independent’ journalism in having any integrity in these dark times.

    But even as the narrative of lies may wear thinner, don’t expect the real plague of corruption and criminality to end anytime soon. As dutifully reported here, meaningless casedemics of false positives and fraudulent testing, ridiculous rituals of masked submission, and magical production of scariants remain in force. And we’ll need stronger medicine of sustained, organized resistance if the full extent of the crimes against humanity still underway is to be cured.

    1. The Left is replete with scientifically illiterate people who think with their guts and by emotion. The Left is about as uninformed as the Right, and that’s sad.

  6. the actual epidemiologists were ignored: the great Barrington declaration censored suppressed by ruling class media—the “Public health experts” failed…impossible that zits could be worse…the only real crisis—hysteria, fake news from CD, hysteria

  7. I think what we need, to begin with, are: competent public health leadership at the state and national levels; more effective, free vaccines; proper education of the public; mandatory vaccination and mask-wearing; free, routine testing; prosecution and imprisonment of pandemic profiteers (let Big Pharma execs go to jail); regular UBI payments until the virus is eradicated; taxing the rich at ~90+%. We need Socialism and policy based on sound public health principals.

  8. Do a deep dive and look into all those upper echelon Admin folk, all of them, and their attitudes about people, us, the regular schmuks. Really, have the guts to parse into that.

    Zients was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Kensington, Maryland. His family is Jewish. Zients graduated from the St. Albans School prep school in 1984 and received a degree in political science from Duke University,[6] graduating summa cum laude in 1988

    CDC freak?

    Walensky was born Rochelle Paula Bersoff in Peabody, Massachusetts, to Edward Bersoff and Carol Bersoff-Bernstein, a Jewish family. She was raised in Potomac, Maryland.

    Vet science guy who is head of Pfizer —

    Bourla was born and raised in Thessaloniki, Greece. His parents, who were Sephardi Jews, were among the 2,000 of 50,000 Jews in Thessaloniki to survive the Holocaust; According to Bourla, his mother was allegedly minutes away from execution by firing squad when she was spared via a ransom paid to a Nazi Party official by her non-Jewish brother-in-law, while his father happened to be out of the Jewish ghetto when the residents were taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp and went into hiding, never to see his parents again.

    Then, the disasterous war mongers —

    Blinken was born on April 16, 1962, in Yonkers, New York, to Jewish parents, Judith (Frehm) and Donald M. Blinken, who later served as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. His maternal grandparents were Hungarian Jews. Blinken’s uncle, Alan Blinken, served as the American ambassador to Belgium. His paternal grandfather, Maurice Henry Blinken, was an early backer of Israel who studied its economic viability, and his great-grandfather was Meir Blinken, a Yiddish writer.

    Sherman was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to a Jewish family. Her father, Malcolm Sherman, was a Marine originally from Philadelphia. While she was in elementary school, her family moved to Pikesville, Maryland, and Sherman attended Pikesville High School. Sherman attended Smith College from 1967 to 1969, and graduated from Boston University in 1971 in the field of sociology and urban studies. In 1976, she earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland. She subsequently began her career as a social worker, before going into politics.

    Even Kamala Harris, still, with these elites discussing her marriage — from Jerusalem Post: It is not surprising that the Jewish community is excited to be represented on the Biden-Harris ticket. Political leanings of the community aside, Kamala Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, is a member of the tribe, and two of Joe Biden’s children are married to someone who is Jewish.

    But sadly, the Jewish community is a bit selective in celebrating interfaith marriage. If it brings us a Jewish second gentleman, we will cheer. But interfaith marriage is still taboo to many, and an Orthodox or Conservative rabbi would not have been allowed to preside over the Harris and Emhoff wedding.
    American Jews want to celebrate the Jewish ties of any famous person while still discriminating against the relationships that tie these individuals to the Jewish community.

    https://www.jpost.com/american-politics/jewish-community-vocal-over-kamala-harriss-jewish-husband-638730

    A tribe indeed, according the WikiPedia, and then the JP! What do people’s families and educations and influences and religious and economic narratives and tribes have to their worldview? Interesting!

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