Rochelle Walensky is the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is perhaps best known for alarmist and contradictory statements that confuse and terrify the American people. Her behavior might well lead one to ask, “Does she know what she is doing?” The answer is yes. She is selling vaccines.
Walensky came to her current job as head of the CDC from Massachusetts General Hospital where she was the head of the Infectious Disease Department. Mass General is the original teaching hospital for Harvard University. It includes the Mass General Research Institute, which is the largest hospital-based research program in the nation. It conducts $1 billion in operations yearly and employs 9500 researchers that work in more than 30 institutes, centers, and departments.
Mass General has a host of contracts with U.S. government agencies. Almost a decade before the COVID-19 outbreak, Mass General investigator and Infectious Diseases Physician, Mark Poznansky, MD, Ph.D., received funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a platform for accelerated vaccine development in the event of a rapidly spreading infectious disease. The focus of this work was on the development and deployment of a vaccine on a timeline not previously considered possible.
In other words, over a decade ago DARPA and Mass General were laser-focused on confronting any new emerging disease via the deployment of a vaccine on an extremely short timeline. They were not discussing or planning for the treatment of individuals affected or the employment of other measures to mitigate the spread of the disease and/or to isolate those infected. The answer to a pandemic would be the deployment of a new, essentially experimental, vaccine.
This collaboration led to the creation of something called the VaxCelerate Consortium, a platform capable of generating and clinically testing a new vaccine in less than 120 days. Dr. Poznansky became one of the founding members of this consortium along with a number of other Mass General physicians. Mass General and the researchers employed there regularly profit from the research they do and partner with private companies that want to exploit their discoveries. As an example, six months before the COVID pandemic, a company called Voltron Therapeutics licensed the VaxCelerate technology from Mass General.
Mass General is located in Boston, Massachusetts. The Greater Boston area has become the center of the biotech industry in the United States. Literally, hundreds of biotech firms are situated in Boston and the surrounding area. This includes firms like Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Merck, and Pfizer.
Massachusetts biopharma firms invest billions of dollars a year in research. They employ in excess of 100,000 people. All of these firms interact with and collaborate with the academic institutions and hospitals in the area. At the heart of this relationship is Mass General. This lucrative interaction is fueled by vast sums of federal money that flow into the area in the form of research grants. For decades the National Institute of Health has sent more money to the city of Boston than to any other location in the country.
In the first quarter of 2021 alone, Mass General Brigham, the umbrella entity of which Mass General is the largest piece, earned in excess of $1 billion dollars. Pfizer alone stands to make in excess of $26 billion just this year from sales of its vaccine.
Walensky was chosen then not because of some unique track record in curing disease and saving lives but because she is a representative of perhaps the single most important institution in a giant complex involving huge quantities of taxpayer’s money, research institutions, and scientists getting rich off of their discoveries. This complex decided years ago that its approach to combatting the emergence of a virus – like COVID – would be the development and marketing of a vaccine on an accelerated timetable. It has worked toward that goal ever since.
The only possible fly in the ointment for such an approach would, of course, be “vaccine hesitancy.” Developing a vaccine and manufacturing is pointless if people will not take it. Walensky recognized this problem long ago.
In May of 2020, she co-authored a study that identified the need to create “enthusiasm” for vaccination as the key factor in getting people to agree to be inoculated.
“Vaccination coverage—the percentage of the population that ultimately receives a vaccine—is dependent on efforts that foster widespread public enthusiasm for vaccination and address sources of hesitancy for vaccines in general and COVID-19 vaccines in particular.”
It was not enough to manufacture a drug and market it. You had to make people want to take it.
Shortly after taking over as head of CDC Walensky identified this issue as her primary focus. It was her job to combat vaccine hesitancy. To that end, she noted that she intended to increase media appearances over those of her predecessor.
“Science is now conveyed through Twitter. Science is conveyed on social media, on podcasts, and in many different ways. And I think that’s critical,” Walensky said during a live-streamed interview with JAMA’s Howard Bauchner, MD, the journal’s editor-in-chief. When confronting vaccine hesitancy or anti-vaxxer sentiment on social media, “There’s just this massive void and the right information, I think, is not getting out there… I want to make sure that the science is conveyed. We have to say it to one another. We have to say it to the public. And then we have to say it in other forms.”
Walensky’s tune has not changed with time. At every opportunity, she pushes the same narrative. No matter what, the only solution is that you must take the vaccine.
“Already people are resting on the fact that the numbers are starting to look better. I worry that life will feel and look a little bit better, and the motivation for those who might be vaccine-hesitant will be diminished.”
Walensky, March 2021
Rochelle Walensky knows very well what she is doing. She is selling vaccines.