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Trump says not to fear the virus. But fear saves lives when leaders fail us.

Face to face with his own mortality, Trump rejects the whole notion, and many of his allies have followed his lead. Jason Miller, a senior campaign adviser, told reporters that “we’re not going to hide in fear” and will continue to hold rallies after Trump’s diagnosis. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of the president’s biggest fanboys, tweeted in a tone that was surely meant to signal strength rather than desperation: “President Trump won’t have to recover from COVID. COVID will have to recover from President Trump. #MAGA.” In a similar vein, Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren ridiculed Joe Biden for advocating for coronavirus precautions: “Might as well carry a purse with that mask, Joe.”

But what’s so bad about fear? Fear is a rational, necessary response to a disease that has already killed more than 212,000 Americans and forced cities to use refrigerated trucks as makeshift morgues. Fear is what drives us to wear masks and get tested. Fear for the well-being of others — something one might call care — is what keeps us away from our loved ones for their own safety, even as the world crumbles around us. Of course we should be afraid of the coronavirus. Fear keeps us alive.

Being afraid is an adaptive feeling meant to protect us both physically and psychologically, allowing us to identify and avoid danger. Suppressing a response that evolved to safeguard us is foolish on its face. But fear itself is neither good nor bad; it can lead to selfish survivalism or a sense of collective responsibility. During the pandemic, we’ve seen some people hoard toilet paper, while others have formed mutual aid networks. We’ve seen bosses cut employees without offering any severance, while those same workers organize to help one another navigate the unemployment system. As a leader, Trump stokes the former impulse, even though combating a pandemic calls for the latter.

The president’s tactic of treating the pandemic as a test of personal strength rather than a policy issue isn’t anything new. Politicians tend to lean on stirring emotional rhetoric when sidestepping their responsibility as policymakers. The effect is individualizing: People are made out to be either courageous or scared; strong or weak; masculine or not. The implication is that if we all, on our own, choose to be brave, then we can overcome the coronavirus.

This type of framing isn’t unique to Republicans; it’s nearly impossible to walk around New York right now without seeing signs blaring “NY TOUGH.” The slogan is the center of a coronavirus propaganda campaign by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), in which the governor also unveiled a foam coronavirus mountain at a news briefing and a “New York Tough” poster with images of things New Yorkers have supposedly overcome, like the “Boyfriend Cliff” and the “Winds of Fear.” As Cuomo put it at the time, “I love poster art.”

This kind of rhetoric serves to shift blame for the pandemic’s fallout toward individual citizens and away from any sense of collective responsibility

Trump Antigen Testing Fail; COVID Stimulus Waste; Politicians vs Public Health

Welcome to the latest edition of Investigative Roundup, highlighting some of the best investigative reporting on healthcare each week.

Trump’s Antigen Testing Fail

Eschewing evidence, the White House has favored antigen testing for COVID-19 over the more reliable PCR tests, Kaiser Health News reported, citing one potential reason for the disease outbreak there.

Antigen tests do not need to be processed in traditional labs and yield results more quickly, making them more favorable to the Trump administration. But BinaxNOW, the new antigen test now used in the White House, has not been independently verified for accuracy and reliability. BinaxNOW received an FDA emergency use authorization in August.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently inked a $760-million contract with Abbott, which makes BinaxNOW, to distribute 150 million tests to places including historically black colleges and universities, state governors (to help them potentially reopen schools), and nursing homes. The Big Ten football conference also decided to play this fall — after originally punting on the season — in part because of the availability of the more rapid antigen tests, “following Trump’s political pressure,” KHN reported.

The White House does not report antigen test results to the Washington, D.C., health department — “a potential violation of federal law under the CARES Act, which says any institution performing tests to diagnose COVID-19 must report all results to local or state public health departments,” the article stated.

Why the COVID Stimulus Was a ‘Waste’

Much of the $4 trillion handed out by the federal government during the pandemic went to large companies that didn’t need the help, rather than struggling medical practices, public health departments, and other healthcare entities, according to a Washington Post analysis.

“The legislation bestowed billions in benefits on companies and wealthy individuals largely unscathed by the pandemic, leaving some local public health efforts struggling for money to conduct testing and other prevention efforts,” according to the analysis, which was based on data from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

More than half of the aid ($2.3 trillion) went to businesses that weren’t required to show that they were hurt by the pandemic, or that they kept workers on the job, the Post reported.

Only $25 billion was earmarked for coronavirus testing via the most recent relief bill on April 24. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer and bipartisan groups of experts have called for $100 billion or more for testing.

Many public companies received CARES Act tax breaks, including Tenet Healthcare, as did companies unaffected by the pandemic. Medical equipment maker Owens & Minor, for example, plans to claim $13 million in tax breaks while personal protective equipment demand has sent its stock price soaring.

The healthcare and social services sector received 12.9% of the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program loans while accounting for 10% of job losses. Construction and manufacturing, by comparison, received 12.4% and 10.3%, while accounting for just 4.7% and 6.4% of job losses, respectively.

By following traditional methods of propping up businesses instead of addressing

Exclusive: Moderna Vaccine Trial Contractors Fail to Enroll Enough Minorities, Prompting Slowdown | Top News

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Private contractors hired by Moderna Inc to recruit volunteers for its coronavirus vaccine trial failed to enroll enough Black, Latino and Native American participants to determine how well the vaccine works in these populations, company executives and vaccine researchers told Reuters.

To make up for the shortfall, Moderna slowed enrollment of its late-stage trial and instructed research centers to focus on increasing participation among minority volunteers, the company said. The effort is being bolstered by academic researchers who have longstanding relationships with organizations in Black and other minority communities.

Five investigators working on the Moderna trial said in interviews that commercial site investigators quickly filled a large portion of the 30,000-person study with mostly white volunteers.

But COVID-19 infects Blacks in the United States at nearly three times the rate of white Americans, and they are twice as likely to die from the virus, according to a report by the National Urban League and other studies.

And communities of color count prominently among healthcare workers and populations at high risk of COVID-19 complications, making them among the first likely to be eligible for a new vaccine, experts said.

Dr. Paul Evans, chief executive of Velocity Clinical Research in Durham, North Carolina, whose company was hired to test the Moderna vaccine at five sites, said efforts to enroll volunteers from diverse backgrounds to provide proper population balance is “notoriously difficult” in any clinical trial.

“If there’s a problem with recruiting minorities, and there is, you can’t fix that overnight,” he said.

Black Americans made up only about 7% of the trial as of Sept. 17. That should be closer to 13% to reflect the actual U.S. population.

During the last two weeks of September, Moderna said it increased the proportion of Black enrollment, but declined to provide details.

Increased trial participation could help address distrust between communities of color and the medical industry after years of underrepresentation in pharmaceutical research, historical horror stories of medical experimentation without consent, and socioeconomic and health access inequities, vaccine experts and public health officials say.

One-fourth of Moderna’s 100 trial sites are run by academic centers that are part of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network (CoVPN), while the rest are largely commercial subcontractors. A contract research organization called PPD was hired by Moderna to oversee the trial sites.

“We are essentially making up” for the commercial sites, said one CoVPN investigator not authorized to speak publicly.

Dr. Larry Corey, co-leader of CoVPN, said the NIH has invested in clinical trial sites with outreach programs staffed by doctors and nurses with ties to minority communities.

“That’s not something that is part of the business model of commercial research organizations,” Corey said.

Moderna is one of the furthest along in the U.S. race for a vaccine seen as essential to ending a pandemic that has claimed over a million lives worldwide. It received more than $1 billion in government funding to develop and produce its candidate, and another $1.5

Moderna vaccine trial contractors fail to enroll enough minorities: sources

Tony Potts, a 69-year-old retiree living in Ormond Beach, receives his first injection as a participant in a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna at Accel Research Sites on August 4, 2020 in DeLand, Florida.

Paul Hennessy | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Private contractors hired by Moderna to recruit volunteers for its coronavirus vaccine trial failed to enroll enough Black, Latino and Native American participants to determine how well the vaccine works in these populations, company executives and vaccine researchers told Reuters.

To make up for the shortfall, Moderna slowed enrollment of its late-stage trial and instructed research centers to focus on increasing participation among minority volunteers, the company said. The effort is being bolstered by academic researchers who have longstanding relationships with organizations in Black and other minority communities.

Five investigators working on the Moderna trial said in interviews that commercial site investigators quickly filled a large portion of the 30,000-person study with mostly white volunteers.

But Covid-19 infects Blacks in the United States at nearly three times the rate of white Americans, and they are twice as likely to die from the virus, according to a report by the National Urban League and other studies.

And communities of color count prominently among healthcare workers and populations at high risk of Covid-19 complications, making them among the first likely to be eligible for a new vaccine, experts said.

Dr. Paul Evans, chief executive of Velocity Clinical Research in Durham, North Carolina, whose company was hired to test the Moderna vaccine at five sites, said efforts to enroll volunteers from diverse backgrounds to provide proper population balance is “notoriously difficult” in any clinical trial.

“If there’s a problem with recruiting minorities, and there is, you can’t fix that overnight,” he said.

Black Americans made up only about 7% of the trial as of Sept. 17. That should be closer to 13% to reflect the actual U.S. population.

During the last two weeks of September, Moderna said it increased the proportion of Black enrollment, but declined to provide details.

Increased trial participation could help address distrust between communities of color and the medical industry after years of underrepresentation in pharmaceutical research, historical horror stories of medical experimentation without consent, and socioeconomic and health access inequities, vaccine experts and public health officials say.

One-fourth of Moderna’s 100 trial sites are run by academic centers that are part of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Covid-19 Prevention Trials Network (CoVPN), while the rest are largely commercial subcontractors. A contract research organization called PPD was hired by Moderna to oversee the trial sites.

“We are essentially making up” for the commercial sites, said one CoVPN investigator not authorized to speak publicly.

Dr. Larry Corey, co-leader of CoVPN, said the NIH has invested in clinical trial sites with outreach programs staffed by doctors and nurses with ties to minority communities.

“That’s not something that is part of the business model of commercial research organizations,” Corey said.

Moderna is one of the furthest

Exclusive: Moderna vaccine trial contractors fail to enroll enough minorities, prompting slowdown

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Private contractors hired by Moderna Inc to recruit volunteers for its coronavirus vaccine trial failed to enroll enough Black, Latino and Native American participants to determine how well the vaccine works in these populations, company executives and vaccine researchers told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

To make up for the shortfall, Moderna slowed enrollment of its late-stage trial and instructed research centers to focus on increasing participation among minority volunteers, the company said. The effort is being bolstered by academic researchers who have longstanding relationships with organizations in Black and other minority communities.

Five investigators working on the Moderna trial said in interviews that commercial site investigators quickly filled a large portion of the 30,000-person study with mostly white volunteers.

But COVID-19 infects Blacks in the United States at nearly three times the rate of white Americans, and they are twice as likely to die from the virus, according to a report by the National Urban League and other studies.

And communities of color count prominently among healthcare workers and populations at high risk of COVID-19 complications, making them among the first likely to be eligible for a new vaccine, experts said.

Dr. Paul Evans, chief executive of Velocity Clinical Research in Durham, North Carolina, whose company was hired to test the Moderna vaccine at five sites, said efforts to enroll volunteers from diverse backgrounds to provide proper population balance is “notoriously difficult” in any clinical trial.

“If there’s a problem with recruiting minorities, and there is, you can’t fix that overnight,” he said.

Black Americans made up only about 7% of the trial as of Sept. 17. That should be closer to 13% to reflect the actual U.S. population.

During the last two weeks of September, Moderna said it increased the proportion of Black enrollment, but declined to provide details.

Increased trial participation could help address distrust between communities of color and the medical industry after years of underrepresentation in pharmaceutical research, historical horror stories of medical experimentation without consent, and socioeconomic and health access inequities, vaccine experts and public health officials say.

One-fourth of Moderna’s 100 trial sites are run by academic centers that are part of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network (CoVPN), while the rest are largely commercial subcontractors. A contract research organization called PPD was hired by Moderna to oversee the trial sites.

“We are essentially making up” for the commercial sites, said one CoVPN investigator not authorized to speak publicly.

Dr. Larry Corey, co-leader of CoVPN, said the NIH has invested in clinical trial sites with outreach programs staffed by doctors and nurses with ties to minority communities.

“That’s not something that is part of the business model of commercial research organizations,” Corey said.

Moderna is one of the furthest along in the U.S. race for a vaccine seen as essential