Heeeeeere’s Arnie—at the FDA Advisory Committee Meeting

I got a big kick out of Acting Chair of the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Dr. Arnold Monto at the FDA meeting last month for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster. Everybody else did too, I bet. They all called him Arnie. I’m looking forward to seeing Arnie in action again this week for the meeting on the other boosters, Moderna and J&J. They’ll also discuss mixing and matching vaccine boosters—if Arnie lets them.

Arnie is pretty good at keeping speakers on a timeline. Everybody has a short leash. “That’s all you can ask.” “Keep it short, or I’ll cut you off.” “Hurry up, people want to get out in their gardens.” (He actually said something like that toward the end of the last meeting). The end of the meeting was abrupt. Arnie evidently expected the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to tidy up the regulatory decision with which the FDA committee seemed to struggle regarding the Pfizer booster.

I’m not the only one who notices Arnie’s preference for terseness. I found the article “Hearing Without Listening” by David S. Hilzenrath, who posted it on the web, December 16, 2020 on POGO.

I think Hilzenrath was a little hard on Arnie. People do tend to talk too much at meetings and that can interfere with getting things done.

I wonder what Arnie thinks about the Moderna and J&J boosters and the heterologous vaccination dosing strategies (“mixing and matching”)? My impression of what I read in the news is that different experts might be purposely jazzing up the topic, sending readers in different directions decorated with teaser headlines and leading statements. One might say something like, sure, the booster does what it’s supposed to do, which is boost—but does it boost enough? Another might say the boosters are barely needed. Many of them tend to be identified as “former” directors of something or other.

I’m not sure I’ll pay much attention to the hour long open public hearing, 3-minute-long diatribes per speaker on the miraculous properties of lemon-freshened Ivermectin gummies, including breathless accounts of also witnessing armies of Bigfoot hacking hairballs at armies of Gray Aliens doing impressions of Elvis (“thank ya-thank ya very much”) all on the head of a pin. If YouTube is kicking out purveyors of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, why can’t the FDA and CDC advisory committees do the same?

I wonder if Arnie will rush the upcoming meeting because has a butternut squash garden he wants to get back to as soon as possible?

OK, we’re done here. You need to pick your pumpkins.

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