The main lesson from the scandal over his flight to Cancún while Texas froze, Senator Ted Cruz said on Tuesday, is that people should not be “assholes”, and should treat each other with respect.
The Texas Republican, who ran for the presidential nomination in 2016, is known for his caustic and brutal attacks on Democrats and willingness to buck even the appearance of bipartisan cooperation in the Senate in order to achieve his own goals, even by causing a government shutdown.
He was speaking, without discernible irony, today on Ruthless, a podcast which offers “next-generation conservative talk”.
The subject at hand was Cruz’s decision to take his family to warmer climes while his state shivered, and the decision thereafter of an unknown friend to leak the senator’s wife’s text messages to the press.
Cruz landed in political hot water while at least 30 Texans died in the cold. Temperatures have now risen but water supplies are still affected by power outages which hit millions because the state energy grid was not prepared for the freeze. Many Texans also face exorbitant bills as power companies seek to profit from the disaster.
Cruz’s most passionate complaint was about how the press treated him and his family in an affair in which he first blamed his young daughters for wanting to go to Cancún, then flew home solo and admitted his mistake.
“Here’s a suggestion,” he said. “Just don’t be assholes. Just, you know, treat each other as human beings, have to some degree some modicum of respect.”
An AstraZeneca executive told a House subcommittee that he believes his company could receive emergency authorization to distribute 300 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by early April. This week, drug regulators are expected to consider authorizing a one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
These vaccines would be in addition to the more than 600 million doses (enough to vaccinate 300 million people) that the US government has already purchased from Moderna and Pfizer. These are the only two vaccines currently authorized in the US.
“It appears by mid-summer we may have a surplus of vaccines,” said Representative Morgan Griffith, a Republican representative from Virginia, at a House subcommittee hearing on vaccine availability.
“By July, we may have enough that we have a surplus in the US, because there only about 260 million people are vaccine eligible,” in the US, said Griffith. Griffith asked whether surplus doses in the US could be donated to other countries.
“I truly hope and believe there will be a surplus if everyone is available,” said Dr. Ruud Dobber, an executive with AstraZeneca. “There’s a huge need” in low- and middle-income countries, said Dobber.
A subcommittee of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce heard from executives of Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers Tuesday morning.
The committee members said the hearing was part of an effort to more quickly vaccinate Americans. One day prior, the US marked the death of more than 500,000 Americans from the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the most notable appearances at the committee was from Dr. Richard Nettles, vice president of medical affairs at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen. The company’s single-dose vaccine is being considered for authorization by drug regulators this week.
“We believe that our single-dose vaccine will be a critical tool for fighting this global pandemic,” said Nettles. If authorized, Janssen’s vaccine would be the only single-dose vaccine available in the US. Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses.
Janssen’s vaccine would also be significantly easier for medical personnel to handle. It only requires storage at common refrigeration temperatures, rather than the sub-zero temperatures required for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
“Assuming necessary regulatory approvals, we are ready to begin shipping it immediately,” said Nettles. He said the company expects to deliver enough doses to vaccinate “more than 20 million Americans” by March.
An advisory committee of the US Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to recommend approval of the vaccine Friday. While the agency will ultimately decide whether to authorize the vaccine on an emergency basis, it often takes the recommendations of its advisory panels.
“We must vaccinate the majority of the population,” said Representative Frank Pallone, Democratic chairman of the committee from New Jersey. “Unfortunately, the initial vaccine rollout under the Trump administration was marred by poor planning.”