DeSantis Just Happens to Criticize the Vaccines Moscow Hates Most
The following is part of The Moscow Primary: an irregular series on yours truly’s speculations regarding the views of the 2024 Republican nomination contest from the most important player: the Kremlin.
If I may once again tweak Trotsky’s famous missive: Ron DeSantis may not act like he’s interested in Moscow, but he sure acts like Moscow is interested in him.
The Florida Governor made some headlines by requesting a grand jury to investigate “relating to the development, promotion, and distribution of vaccines purported to prevent COVID19 infection, symptoms, and transmission.” He also announced the creation of an anti-CDC bureau to be led by the vaccine critic he appointed as Florida’s Surgeon General: Joseph Ladapo (WaPo).
For the most part, DeSantis got the reactions he wanted. American media portrayed his action as a standard anti-vax position (see CNN, NBC News, and Politico). The expected arguments and 2024 speculation ensued. A closer look at DeSantis’ actions, however, shows a more specific and targeted “anti-vax” action, one Moscow is sure to notice.
We must remember that there were three COVID-19 vaccines that were presented by western pharmaceuticals to the world: Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. DeSantis, however, focuses exclusively on the first two (see Politico link above): “DeSantis and Ladapo recently began focusing on the mRNA vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.”
Moreover, the Governor’s afore-linked grand jury request never mentions J&J, only Moderna and Pfizer. Lapado, meanwhile, gleefully talks about keeping “the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna up late at night” (see CNN link above). Wherever J&J CEO Joaquin Duato sleeps, he can do it soundly.
Of course, J&J’s vaccine differed from Moderna and Pfizer. The latter two are mRNA vacccines, while J&J is a viral vector vaccine. What other COVID vaccine is viral vector, rather than mRNA? Sputnik V, which has not, shall we say, performed well by comparison (Carnegie Endowment). Could it be just a coincidence that DeSantis is aiming his political machine at the vaccines most unlike Sputnik’s? I’m sure that’s possible, but I wouldn’t bet that way.
Lest we forget, DeSantis has two requirements for 2024, if he chooses to run himself. Not only does he need to defeat Trump for the nomination, but he also needs to make sure Trump doesn’t sabotage him in the fall. Knowing Trump, he will gladly do so unless told otherwise in no uncertain terms. Only one person has the power do that, which is why the Moscow primary is so important in the first place.
So we can expect more DeSantis “coincidences” as he racks up policy agreements with the Kremlin. Will it be enough for the Governor to score an upset win in the Moscow primary? That remains to be seen.