Report: Trump Administration Scraps Santa Claus Coronavirus Vaccine Plan

Topline

According to an exclusive report in the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Health and Human Services cancelled a coronavirus vaccine advertising plan that would have offered Santa Claus performers—along with Mrs. Claus and elf performers—early access to a Covid-19 vaccine in exchange for promoting its benefits to the public. 

Key Facts

The plan would have cost $250 million in taxpayer funds, according to the Journal, and was intended to “defeat despair” and “inspire hope” through TV, radio, online, and podcast ads. 

The public-service ad campaign—first suggested by HHS assistant secretary Michael Caputo (who is now on medical leave)—has been mired by the suggestion from several House Democrats, among others, that it was politically motivated rather than purely intended to promote public health, the Journal reported.

It’s now under official review by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern told the Journal that President Trump was never informed about the planned use of Santa performers. 

Crucial Quote

“This was our greatest hope for Christmas 2020, and now it looks like it won’t happen,” Ric Erwin, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, told the Journal

Key Background

As coronavirus cases surge across the country—the U.S. passed its previous single-day case record on Friday with more than 85,000 cases reported—there’s no indication that a vaccine will be ready for widespread distribution before the end of the year. To address the spike in the absence of an effective vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested last week that a national mask mandate may be necessary. 

Chief Critic

The Trump administration’s vaccine effort—dubbed “Operation Warp Speed”—has drawn criticism over what is seen as political intervention in a critical scientific process, especially given that Trump has repeatedly promised that a vaccine will be approved ahead of the November 3 election during his campaign events. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he will create an independent task force to review vaccine candidates before distributing any vaccine to New Yorkers. Gov. Cuomo told ABC’s Good Morning America that under the Trump administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration lack “credibility.” 

Further Reading

Health Agency Halts Coronavirus Ad Campaign, Leaving Santa Claus in the Cold (Wall Street Journal)

Fauci: National Mask Mandate May Be Needed Amid Covid-19 Spike (Forbes)

Cuomo Says FDA, CDC Under Trump Lack ‘Credibility’ On Approving Coronavirus Vaccine (Forbes)

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