Focused protection was never the point

As I noted previously, Congress has somehow failed to provide funding for COVID vaccines and treatments.  This is a major policy error, an error that could kill many tens of thousands of people if not corrected.

You might think that spending on vaccines and treatments would be something we could all agree on, regardless of our other differences on COVID policy.  After all, even libertarians who oppose mask and vaccine mandates and social distancing rules claim to believe in “focused protection” and “protecting the vulnerable”, and vaccines, anti-virals, monoclonal anti-bodies all protect the vulnerable.  They do so effectively and cheaply.

Yesterday I searched the following websites for “paxlovid” or “congress spending covid” in the past 30 days to try to find articles advocating for spending on vaccines and treatments: 

  • The American Institute for Economic Research
  • Café Hayek
  • The Brownstone Institute
  • Collateral Global
  • Reason

These are the organizations that publicized the Great Barrington Declaration and advocated for “focused protection”. 

I found only one article, at Reason, that acknowledges that spending on vaccines and treatments is worthwhile.  I certainly could have missed something – proving a negative is impossible – but funding for vaccines and treatments does not seem to be a priority for the people who have spent the past two years arguing for protecting the vulnerable. 

This is not surprising.  As I have said before, there’s not much evidence that the advocates of “focused protection” actually care about “protecting the vulnerable”.

For libertarians, classical liberals, and free-market conservatives, COVID was just another opportunity to undermine trust in government.  This is their only priority.  It is the only priority of their funders.  They are so intent on discrediting government that they cannot even try to find common ground with those of us who think government has a constructive role to play in dealing with problems like the COVID pandemic.  (Even the Reason article that acknowledges the benefits of spending on vaccines and treatments does not actually advocate for that spending.  Most of the article criticizes spending that the author considers wasteful.  We can debate the merits of other government spending on COVID; we may or may not agree.  But failing to endorse spending that really will save lives is irresponsible.  An earlier article at Reason criticized excessive spending by Congress; it mentioned proposed COVID funding but failed to state that this funding was justified.)