A thought about "secret labs"
Friday Pulse Check
Good morning and happy Friday. This is the Friday Pulse Check from FLATLINING.
If only, if only the woodpecker sighs
And so do advocates of breaking up pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Typically, when we hear this sort of language, the speaker is decrying the profits of these organizations and says that “if we only took the profits from big pharma or the insurance companies, we would have much lower cost healthcare!”
While this might sound accurate, progressive, and highly intelligent, the speaker has failed to look at a key issue. His or her numbers do not add up and it is quite literally not possible. First the numbers: if you were able to recoup one hundred percent of pharma and insurance profits, it would reduce US healthcare costs by about $100 billion a year. So that would lower the costs from $4 trillion to $3.9 trillion. Not a huge dent.
Secondly, it is not possible to recoup one hundred percent of these profits. At least, it is not possible in the market system we have in the United States. If Karl Marx wants to rise from the dead and change this, he is welcome to do so. I’ll wait.
A place where there is significant profiteering and not much market share (ie monopolies) is where the middleman is: the Pharmacy Benefits Managers. Ron wrote about them in detail earlier this week and you should take a read.
During his State of the Union, President Joseph Biden touted his plan to cap insulin at $35 a month. His idea has bipartisan support but it still likely will not get through Congress.
Mr. Biden’s proposal can be found in his Build Back Better plan, which has only passed the House. Progressive Democrats still want to pass this plan as opposed to sectioning out pieces to pass on their own. Secondly, Senate Republicans who have previously not introduced legislation to cap insulin costs, such as Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Sen. John Kennedy (Louisiana), have not spoken on recent legislation from Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia) which would implement the $35 cap.
More on Ukraine
Russia has continued its assault on Ukraine this week and the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed eighteen attacks on health providers and hospitals. According to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the attacks have resulted in ten deaths and sixteen injuries.
Additionally, the WHO has advised Ukraine to destroy high-threat pathogens housed in the country’s public laboratories. According to some biosecurity experts, Russia’s invasion has created the possibility of a leak that could spread disease across Ukraine and then Europe.
This last call from the WHO has political consequences as well. Russia’s foreign ministry has claimed for years that the United States operates a biowarfare lab in Ukraine. The People’s Republic of China this week echoed Russia’s claims. Washington and Kyiv have always denied these allegations.
Remember last week when I told you about how misinformation has shifted from COVID-19 to the conflict in Ukraine? This is a perfect example. I have already heard reports from certain people on more right-leaning platforms claim that this is true and that it was verified in Congress this week.
In front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was asked by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) if Ukraine has biological weapons. Ms. Nuland responded saying, “Ukraine has biological research facilities which, in fact, we’re now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to gain control of, so we are working with the Ukrainians on how we can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.”
Mr. Rubio then asked, “If there is a biological or chemical weapon incident or attack inside Ukraine, is there any doubt in your mind that 100% it would be the Russians behind it?” Ms. Nuland responded, “There is no doubt in my mind, Senator. And in fact, it is a classic Russian technique to blame the other guy for what they are planning to do themselves.”
What was verified in Congress this week was that there are biological research labs that do deal with diseases. This really is not that abnormal; the US funds research labs all over the globe to research HIV, swine flu, and other diseases endemic to those regions. Contrary to what the Russians and certain American commentators claim, this does not equal the statement “the US has secret bioweapons labs in Ukraine.”
But then again, some of these same people claimed that Ivermectin can treat COVID-19.
Be careful with what you hear, read, and view.
Have a good weekend,