American Oversight’s Covid-19 Oversight Hub provides news and policy resources to help you keep track of investigations into the government’s pandemic response. The project brings together a public documents database, an oversight tracker of important ongoing investigations and litigation, regular news updates, and deeper dives into key issues.
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As Thanksgiving approaches, Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the United States.
Vaccine Candidates Move Forward
Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech submitted their vaccine to be considered for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, after a final analysis of clinical data showed the vaccine is 95 percent effective. The Pfizer vaccine’s ultra-cold storage requirements have raised concerns about distribution challenges, leading the company to start a pilot vaccine delivery program that will run in states with different sizes and diverse populations.
On Sunday, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed, told ABC News that vaccine doses will be shipped to states within 24 hours of FDA approval and that states will decide how and where to distribute them. The Trump administration has also said 99 percent of nursing homes have signed up for a program that allows pharmacies to administer Covid-19 vaccines to seniors free of charge.
On Monday, AstraZeneca became the latest company to announce the results of large-scale vaccine trials, saying that its coronavirus vaccine is up to 90 percent effective, with an average efficacy of 70 percent. Unlike other candidates, AstraZeneca’s vaccine can be stored and transported in normal refrigerated conditions, making it easier to distribute within existing health-care systems.
Covid-19 Supply Stockpile Data Released
Last week, President-elect Joe Biden claimed that the Trump administration was refusing to share critical information with his team, including data about the medical supplies in the national stockpile. In response, Yahoo News published stockpile numbers from Nov. 16. Although the numbers of ventilators and N95 respirators increased since the start of the pandemic, they were not as high as the Trump administration promised they would be in September.
More Transparency Needed on Emergency Use Authorizations
The Government Accountability Office released a report on the need for the FDA to disclose more information from its scientific review of safety and effectiveness data when issuing emergency use authorizations for coronavirus treatments and vaccines. The GAO recommended greater transparency, since the FDA does not uniformly disclose its data review for these authorizations as it does for non-emergency approvals of new drugs and biologics.
The Postal Service’s Covid-19 Response
The U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general released a report identifying three ways the agency’s Covid-19 response failed to protect its employees. First, it was unclear whether state mask mandates (or lack thereof) overruled USPS’s face-covering policy, resulting in non-compliance among some employees. Second, the agency’s Close Contact Tracing Program did not have adequate staffing or clear goals. Lastly, although the CDC recommended temperature-taking for employees in April, USPS did not deploy temperature-taking within its facilities nationwide.
As Workers Got Sick, Managers Placed Bets
Amid heartbreaking news of record-high hospitalizations and deaths last week, new allegations surfaced that supervisors at a Tyson Foods plant in Iowa had placed bets on how many workers would get infected with the coronavirus. While managers took measures to protect themselves, by May more than 1,000 employees in the plant had tested positive for Covid-19. As cases rise rapidly in Iowa, the plant remains open. We’ve previously reported on records showing how the meatpacking industry influenced the federal government’s decision to allow plants to stay open in the spring.
Political Donations Followed PPP Loans
The Project on Government Oversight and the Anti-Corruption Data Collective found that large political donations flowed from more than a hundred businesses after those companies received Paycheck Protection Program loans, suggesting that many of those loan recipients might not have needed the relief funds meant for struggling small businesses.
Trump Donor Received Pandemic Loan
The Washington Post reported that Wellshire Financial Services — a company owned by major Trump donor Rod Aycox, which operates auto-title loan stores that sell loans with a 350 percent annual rate — received a $25 million low-interest loan from the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending program. The program’s rules prohibit such lenders from accessing the aid, but advocates say that Wellshire exploited a loophole to secure the funds.
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