Friday, January 29, 2021

Aviv Kochavi: Hail to the IDF chief - opinion

 The Jerusalem Post

You don't have to be a nuclear scientist to realize that Kochavi’s “briefing” was in complete harmony with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s worldview and policies.


IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi’s speech at the annual Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference on Tuesday aroused the kind of debate among Israeli pundits and politicians that is particularly relevant in the wake of US President Joe Biden’s inauguration this month, and in the lead-up to the March 23 Knesset elections.

 In his address, Kochavi conveyed a two-pronged message: that the administration in Washington should not return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in its current form or any updated version of it; and that the Israeli military is preparing for the possibility of an attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities.

The way he did this, in part, was to underscore the difference between friend and foe.

 “The world power with which we have the strongest ties is the United States,” he stated. “The cooperation [between us] is outstanding, both strategically and operationally. With each passing year, we increase the scope of coordination and achieve the highest level of intimacy. We also have understandings and even operational coordination with Russia – something that can’t be taken for granted – and our coordination and military ties with Egypt and Jordan are only strengthening.”

 He then pointed to the Abraham Accords. “The normalization [with Arab countries in the region] creates a counter-wave against our enemies, many of whom...  were already quite isolated, and now are even more so,” he said, adding, that “for the most part, we have considerably minimized [those] enemies’ ability to transfer weapons via air, land and sea, and... funds earmarked for terrorism.”

 Here he issued a warning to the regime in Tehran and its proxy groups in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.

 “On the day [that our enemies] declare war, many, many missiles will fall [on Israel]. We’re doing everything we can to prevent that... But it’s precisely against this threat that we intend to launch a massive attack – on open and urban enemy areas, and on buildings housing missiles and other weapons,” he announced. “Iran... feeds terrorism around the world [and]... there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that [it] has striven to achieve, marked as a target, desired and built the capability of a nuclear military state...”

HE WAS even more specific about his utter opposition to any iteration of the JCPOA, which he insisted would have enabled Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb “in a matter of months or even weeks.”

 “A return to the nuclear deal of 2015, or even a similar agreement with a number of improvements, is bad and wrong, both operationally and strategically,” he asserted, claiming that any such agreement would enable Iran to forge, full speed ahead, with its uranium enrichment and centrifuge development – and spark the nuclearization of the entire Middle East.

 Without mentioning it by name, he praised the previous US administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, which contributed to the country’s dire economic straits and disgruntled population. All such measures, he said, must be maintained, though Iran could still decide to step up its nuclear efforts.

 Meanwhile, he concluded, “I have directed the IDF to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to existing ones,” so that in the event that the political echelon decides to implement them, they will be “on the table, ready and practiced.”             

YOU DON’T have to be a nuclear scientist, Iranian or otherwise, to realize that Kochavi’s “briefing” was in complete harmony with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s worldview and policies. Naturally, then, opponents of Netanyahu’s continued leadership promptly pounced on the IDF chief.

The most tired criticism, such as that leveled by Channel 12 anchor Oded Ben Ami, was that Kochavi was creating unnecessary friction with Washington before Biden even had a chance to settle into the White House.

 The most amusing was that Israel’s top military man should have taken a slightly more pacifist approach, like that of his predecessor, Gadi Eisenkot, who – at the INSS conference in 2016 – lauded the JCPOA as a “historic turning point,” and last month penned an article in the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot, arguing that Israel’s current security challenges “do not constitute an existential threat.”

By far the most ridiculous, however, came from former deputy IDF chief of staff Yair Golan – a rabid leftist and Meretz MK – who accused Kochavi, among other things, of highlighting threats as a way of vying for a larger defense budget.

 Iran probably isn’t taking Kochavi’s detractors any more seriously than the bulk of the Israeli public does. In any case, the powers-that-be in Tehran are more focused at the moment on Biden and the team he is assembling.

 So far, it’s an encouraging lineup for anyone hoping for, and literally banking on, a US return to the JCPOA. But none is as blatant an appeaser as Robert Malley, who – according to a source cited in Politico on Wednesday – accepted Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s offer to replace Elliott Abrams as US special representative for Iran, “but also asked for a team that would represent a broad diversity of viewpoints on how best to renegotiate the Iran deal.”  

 Malley, who heads the International Crisis Group NGO, led the Middle East desk of the National Security Council under former US president Barack Obama. The “conflict resolution” expert, an advocate of engagement with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, was a key negotiator of the JCPOA.

 NO WONDER radical leftist organizations, such as Code Pink and J Street, are rooting for his appointment. Nor should it come as a surprise that noted Israel-basher Peter Beinart, author of The Crisis of Zionism, is also in Malley’s corner.

 In a lengthy blog screed on Tuesday, Beinart wrote that “like Obama, Malley’s background enables him to see America – and the West more generally – from the outside-in and the bottom-up. In 1996, Malley published ‘The Call From Algeria,’ a careful study of what he called Third Worldism – ‘the belief in the revolutionary aspirations of the Third World masses’ – an ideology, he notes, to which his parents ‘dedicated their lives.’”

 The mullahs and their puppets must be happy at the prospect of having Malley as their point man to push America back to the JCPOA. After four years of former president Donald Trump – who not only withdrew from the nuclear deal, but brokered peace accords between Israel and anti-Iranian Sunni-Arab states – they’re hungry to regain the upper hand in talks with US officials. They also yearn to rid themselves of the crippling sanctions that make their hegemonic aims more difficult and time-consuming to achieve.

 THIS BRINGS us back to Israel, which reaped many benefits from the Trump administration, among them the freedom to act against Iran and other enemies without being chastised for it. Though Netanyahu has been consistent throughout his career in viewing Iran as the world’s greatest threat – and acted accordingly, including during Obama’s two terms in office – he was given full legitimacy by and backing from Trump.

 So, while he and Kochavi realize that the honeymoon with Washington is about to turn into a mere marriage of convenience, if not a hostile union, they can’t afford to succumb to despair. Nor can they let Iran sense any weakness on their part.

 It is undoubtedly for this reason that he offered the following description of “what our enemies think of us.”

 Israel, he said, “is perceived as a country that takes high-level action all over the Middle East... that succeeds in defending itself and... in safeguarding its borders and assets. [It’s] perceived as enterprising and high-functioning.”

 The Israelis who berated Kochavi for that speech have been too busy viewing Netanyahu as an enemy to grasp what the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco understand very well: Iran is the villain; Israel is the hero.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Biden removes Churchill bust from Oval Office - what a disastrous move!


What a disastrous move by Biden if true! It would show he does not understand history at all. Here is what Charles Krauthammer wrote in Winston Churchill: The Indispensable Man

 “Take away Churchill in 1940, on the other hand, and Britain would have settled with Hitler — or worse. Nazism would have prevailed. Hitler would have achieved what no other tyrant, not even Napoleon, had ever achieved: mastery of Europe. Civilization would have descended into a darkness the likes of which it had never known.”


Saturday, January 16, 2021

As Iran edges toward a bomb, an Israeli preemptive strike looks likely


Efraim Inbar         

JAN 15, 2021, 1:42 PM

Construction of Iran's Fordo nuclear facility, on December 11, 2020


With no appetite in the US for military confrontation, Israel may aim for nuclear installations before Tehran achieves nuclear capacity

The Iranian government announced on January 4 that it had resumed enriching uranium to 20 percent, in a significant move that can shorten Iran’s time to develop a nuclear bomb. In just a few days, on January 20, Joe Biden starts his presidency intent on negotiating a new nuclear deal with Iran. While the American posture towards Iran is not clear yet, its chances of achieving an agreement that could allay Israeli fears of Iran’s nuclear potential are slim. The developments in Tehran and in Washington make an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear installations more probable.


Israeli fears of Iran are the result of the republic’s drive for Middle East hegemony and its quest for a nuclear bomb. The religious leadership of Iran believes that the Jewish state has no right to exist and that Israel will either wither away under military pressure or be annihilated when it is weak and vulnerable. Iran also realizes that Israel is the main military barrier to its hegemonic aspirations, rendering it a strategic, as well as a religious, anathema.


Therefore, Iran’s proxies, possessing myriad missiles that can target Israel’s population centers and strategic installations, encircle the Jewish state with a “ring of fire” to weaken it and neutralize its strategic superiority.

The international community has largely ignored Iran’s aggressive regional behavior. The US undermined the balance of power in the Gulf, destroying Saddam Hussein’s regime without establishing a strong successor government. Moreover, President Donald Trump signaled American intentions to leave the Middle East and improved Iran’s chances of erecting a “Shiite corridor” from Iran, via Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean Sea. Biden is unlikely to reverse the direction of American foreign policy.


Although the Iranian nuclear project and its long-range missile program are primarily intended to deter an invasion and to assure regime survival, they have elicited many fears in the region. In the absence of a credible American security umbrella Middle Eastern states, which invariably display high threat perception, are unlikely to look nonchalantly on a nuclear-armed Iran. This would inevitably generate nuclear proliferation.

Israel views a nuclear Middle East with trepidation. Achieving stable deterrence with one hostile, nuclear-armed Middle Eastern state is extremely doubtful. With more than one it is a nightmare. The belief in the stabilizing effects of nuclear proliferation is wishful thinking on the part of irresponsible arm-chair strategists.


Israel has covertly obstructed Iran’s nuclear progress. The June 2020 explosion at Natanz, attributed by foreign media reports to Israel or the US, and the elimination of the top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020, attributed by Iran to Israel, are recent indications of such an effort. When such tools are no longer deemed effective, surgical airstrikes are employed to destroy the nuclear installations in neighboring countries. This was the fate of the nuclear reactors in Iraq (1981) and in Syria (2007). Preemption of an emerging threat is integral to Israeli strategic thinking. Israel hardly shares the widespread apprehension about the regional repercussions of Israeli preventive actions. Preemption in Iraq and Syria ended the nuclear projects in these states with only marginal international costs.


An Israeli preemptive strike will also keep the Sunni states aligned with Israel. As Iran becomes more powerful in the region and the US security umbrella becomes less reliable, reorienting the foreign policy towards Tehran might become more attractive for the Gulf states. Israel might strike sooner rather than later in order to prevent additional improvements in Iran’s defensive measures around its nuclear installations. 

An Iranian nuclear arsenal constitutes an insurance policy for regime survival and is important for achieving regional hegemony. Thus, it is inconceivable that the mullahs will give up the quest for the bomb, unless forced to do so. It is unlikely that the June 2021 presidential elections, with only hardliner candidates, will produce a reasonable Iranian negotiating position vis-à-vis the Biden administration. Initially, Jerusalem will allow Washington a chance to renegotiate the nuclear deal in an attempt to secure Israel’s minimum conditions for a good agreement. Yet, such an outcome is highly unlikely. Whatever efforts at regime change were made were unsuccessful and it remains unlikely in the near future. And ultimately, the US has no appetite for military confrontation with Iran even if the talks collapse.


In contrast, Israel feels extremely vulnerable as Iran’s nuclear aspirations are seen in Israel as an existential threat. If left alone and after realizing that covert means have exhausted their usefulness, Jerusalem would seriously consider taking military action. Despite the many obstacles to a successful mission, the IDF seems capable of executing it. Prime Minister Netanyahu consistently and emphatically reiterates that Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear power.


In order to reverse Iran’s ascendance in the Middle East, prevent its nuclearization and thwart Israel’s encirclement by Iranian proxies, preemption is now more probable.



Friday, January 8, 2021

As Biden enters White House, did Israel's Mossad win war with Iran?


The Jerusalem Post


INTELLIGENCE AFFAIRS: As Biden prepares to take office, Israel is in a better place in efforts to prevent Iran’s nuclear program.




Given that the incoming Biden administration continues to forecast a readiness to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal without necessarily addressing all of Israel’s objections, did Mossad director Yossi Cohen succeed at his own goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear program?

Put differently, will Biden rejoin the nuclear deal in 2021, and if he does, were all of Cohen and the Mossad’s undeniably impressive operations mere tactical victories which did not help them change the broader strategic picture?

The Jerusalem Post has learned that Israeli intelligence’s view is that despite deep uncertainty about the future, Cohen, the Mossad and other defense actions succeeded, given the parameters of the playing field.

A related key question is: Are Israel and the US in practically the same place they would have been if the Trump administration had never pulled out of the deal in May 2018?

Sources would say that the answer is that Israel is in a better place and the best position it could be in despite highly complex forces beyond its control.

Also, in a significant break with many Iran analysts, certain Israeli intelligence and defense sources believe that Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is dead set on a deal with the Biden administration to improve the country’s standing.

If true, this would mean that the obsessive debate over the need for speedy negotiations with Iran is irrelevant and the idea that a deal must be made before the expected June 2021 election of a new hard-liner as Iranian president is mistaken.

If it is true that Khamenei needs a deal even after June 2021, and if Israel can convince the Biden administration not to rush into negotiating a weak deal, this will also color how Cohen’s legacy is viewed.

There are significant concerns across the defense establishment that the Biden administration will go back to the old nuclear deal as if nothing had changed regarding the intelligence picture.

The Mossad views its challenge as presenting the Biden administration with the evidence in order to get it to internalize the new intelligence Israel seized from under Iran’s nose in January 2018, and which 2015-2016 Obama era officials never got to see.

In prior reports, the Post noted sources close to Cohen discussing the first moments when he gave this new intelligence to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel in 2018.

Cohen would now like to repeat this moment with new officials such as incoming US national security advisor Jake Sullivan and incoming US secretary of state Tony Blinken.

It is one thing for those officials to say that even though they know Iran cannot be trusted, the US can still return to the 2015 nuclear deal as long as the IAEA verifies compliance (and maybe without filling all the holes Israel is concerned about).

But will incoming Biden officials’ views change once they see all of the raw intelligence about the five nuclear weapons and the already prepared underground nuclear test sites?

Will they change their views when they see the full picture of Iranian nuclear violations since 2018?

It is one thing to hear this week’s news reports about Iran enriching uranium to the 20% level. Yet, it is quite another thing to get the nitty-gritty details about how much closer this brings them to a nuclear weapon, as the Mossad will provide.
It is also noteworthy how easy it was for Iran to get back to this point despite the nuclear deal.

Incidentally, though there is high concern about Iran’s jump to 20% enrichment, the tone in the intelligence and defense establishment still has not reached the level of needing to get ready for a preemptive strike.

All eyes will be on Iran about whether it follows through with a possible threat in February to reduce cooperation with IAEA inspectors, which would end public oversight of the nuclear program.

Israeli intelligence does not know what Biden officials will decide going forward. But they believe they must use their chance to try to convince the incoming administration that any new deal must be substantially improved on a variety of issues.

UNDOUBTEDLY, WHAT Biden decides will frame much of how Cohen’s legacy is interpreted.

But Cohen and the Mossad also do not choose US leaders or policy. So reviewing whether they have succeeded must start with what they did based on the hand they were dealt.

In analyzing the issue, first Cohen and the Mossad need to be given obvious points of credit.

Cohen is credited on the record with personally conceiving of and managing the now mythic seizure of the Islamic Republic’s secret nuclear files in January 2018 from the Shirobad area, the heart of Tehran itself.

According to foreign sources, which the Post has validated, the Mossad was also behind the assassination of Iran military nuclear program chief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020, the sabotage of Iran’s advanced nuclear centrifuge facility at Natanz in July 2020, and it assisted the US in various intelligence aspects of the assassination of IRGC major-general Qasem Soleimani in January 2020.

Without even getting into removal of a variety of top Hamas and other weapons and science gurus over the past five years, other than possibly Meir Dagan, no Mossad chief has set back Tehran’s nuclear ambitions to the same degree.

The power of these operations can be split into two waves.

The first wave came from the impact of the Mossad’s 2018 revelation of Iran’s nuclear secrets, including that Iran continued in 2017 to try to hide its earlier plans for five nuclear bombs. This boosted Trump’s wish to pull out of the nuclear deal.

But the ripples continued past 2018.

When the IAEA voted in June 2020 to condemn Iran’s failure to clarify various discrepancies, the information it used to confront Tehran was virtually all from Cohen’s operation.

The IAEA vote was important not just as the first time since 2015 that the organization was ready to butt heads with the ayatollahs. It also freed up current IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi to publicly assert that any return to the nuclear deal will require updates due to new Iranian nuclear violations.

The second wave came in 2020 from the Soleimani assassination, the Natanz explosion, and with future potential impact from removing Fakhrizadeh.

Following Soleimani and Natanz, between January 2020 and December 2020, Iran refrained from announcing any new violations of the nuclear deal.

In addition, Israeli intelligence officials and nuclear experts told the Post that the July Natanz explosion set back the Islamic Republic’s advanced centrifuge development by one to two years.

Along with the “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign and threats of force from Trump, including flying B-52 nuclear weapons-capable bombers nearby, these measures, until last month, seemed to have Iran on the defensive.

Regarding Fakhrizadeh, he achieved global infamy during Netanyahu’s famous April 2018 speech about the nuclear archive. But the Mossad has wanted to remove him from the board since the pre-2009 era of former prime minister Ehud Olmert. It says it just never got approval. (Olmert, incidentally, disputes this narrative, but does not want to discuss the matter in detail on the record.)

Though few have heard, Fakhrizadeh has been replaced by a top Iranian commander named Farhi from the space program, showing his importance.

Israeli intelligence officials talk about a special elite class of Iranians who manage the military nuclear program which had to go “from Fakhri to Farhi,” in the same fashion that Jews might sometimes talk about Jewish leadership running from the biblical Moses to the medieval Moses Maimonides.

While “the new Farhi” is high up, Cohen and the rest of Israeli intelligence still view Fakhrizadeh as irreplaceable, which means that damage to Iran’s nuclear program will run deep into the first year of the Biden administration. This is regardless of where US policy leads.

All of that is on the positive side of the scale.

On the negative side of the scale, Khamenei has had his own two counter-waves.

From May 2019 to January 2020, Iran carried out a variety of violations to the nuclear deal. Most significantly, it started to build up its enriched uranium stock to a point where – if enriched to high, weaponized levels – it could develop several nuclear weapons.

Its second wave seemed to be in response to the Natanz facility’s destruction and the killing of Fakhrizadeh.

In October 2020, the Islamic Republic started to build a replacement for the old Natanz facility, but this time underground, making it harder to attack.

In December 2020, Khamenei ordered the enrichment of uranium up to 20%, bringing the program much closer to the level at which it could be weaponized.

After all of that, we return to the million-dollar question of whether Biden will: 1) rejoin the nuclear deal without filling what Israel sees as dangerous holes, 2) fill some, but not all of the holes or 3) achieve a new deal that fills the holes.

The Post understands that elements of Israeli intelligence and the defense establishment are concerned that the Biden administration may try to get some limited new concessions from Iran relating to the precision-guided missiles issue and ignore other holes.

It is known that Cohen does not want Iran to use the precision-guided missiles issue as an excuse to enable it to maintain its nuclear program and hegemonic and terrorist actions in the Middle East.

According to this view, there is still a broader problem that many well-meaning Western officials have the mistaken belief that Iran is playing with the idea of a nuclear weapons program for deterrence, but can be softly coaxed away from the idea.

 Israeli defense sources say that the military substance and the enormous investment in the program make it clear that Iran seeks to actually possess nuclear weapons to advance ideological and hegemonic ambitions.

In that light, Israeli defense sources say there are only two ways to stop Iran.

One would be if the entire world united, without exceptions, and used diplomatic and economic coercion to force Tehran to end its program.

The second path, they say, is using force against Iran’s military nuclear sites and capabilities.

These are the ways that the world ended nuclear threats from Iraq and Libya.

They cite North Korea as an example of a country in complete isolation, both in terms of sanctions and diplomatically. It is nearly impossible to travel there, and Cohen’s view would be that the sanctions against North Korea are far worse, and that countries comply with them more than with the sanctions against Iran.

Iran was obligated to confess to its nuclear program’s past military dimensions. Former IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano had promised Cohen, back when he was Netanyahu’s national security council chief, that he would make Iran follow through.

This never happened.

Given that background, and once the nuclear deal did not stop Iran from progress with ballistic missiles and advanced centrifuges, nor did it end its terrorism in the region, sources said that Cohen and Netanyahu believed there was no remaining choice other than to fight Tehran with force unilaterally.

So Cohen and Netanyahu decided to do exactly that.

Cohen believes that the daring operations the Mossad undertook against Iran replaced a long gap of many years of not acting aggressively enough.

The Post understands that a main reason that the operation to seize the nuclear archives did not take place until January 2018 was that it took Cohen and his Mossad team a full two years to plan it and carry it out.

Intelligence sources were asked about the view of some (including former Mossad chiefs Tamir Pardo and Shabtai Shavit) that the issue of how to stop Iran from going nuclear after 2025 should have been pushed off until close to 2025, without breaking up the deal in 2018.

The Post learned that the view was that any Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal in the early years would have been replaced by covertly and non-covertly chipping away at the nuclear limitations long before 2025.

 Under this view, one key point was who would choose the timing of the next nuclear standoff and whether Israel and the West would have leverage or would still be trapped by fears of upsetting the Iranians.

Each move against Iran was carefully calculated to create leverage for the critical period when there would be a standoff.

Some made light of the nuclear archives because it was records of the nuclear program from the 1990s through 2003.

However, Cohen and Netanyahu believed the archives and Iran’s continued efforts to move them around to different clandestine sites helped them prove to the IAEA and others that Khamenei’s true intentions remain to achieve a nuclear weapon.

 Amano may not have kept his word to Cohen, yet the intelligence obtained from the nuclear archives is exactly what empowered Grossi to insist on new inspections at Turquzabad, Mariwan (also known as Abadeh) and another site near Tehran, all of which had illicit nuclear activities.

So Cohen’s Mossad has done far more than just pressure Iran for a few years until Biden came into the picture.

Despite Iran’s recent jump to 20% enrichment, operations from his tenure will limit Iran’s ability to break out to a nuclear weapon at least in the early stages of the Biden administration. New intelligence collected may convince incoming officials to take some harder stances.

And if, at the end of the day, the Biden administration still cuts a deal with Iran that Israel does not like, something beyond even Cohen’s control, he will still have played his heart out to protect Israel, pushing the envelope to use every tool at his disposal.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Do the Brits know what they are doing? 

 Chris Dall: [00:44:18] So there's been some discussion and debate about lengthening the amount of time between vaccine doses in an effort to get more initial doses into arms, which the United Kingdom is doing, but the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization have both come out against. Mike, what do you make of this idea?

Michael Osterholm: [00:44:36] We all want more vaccine. We know that given the projections of those companies that have licensed products or likely will be licensed in the near term, that we're not going to have nearly enough vaccine for the world in the next year. And even in a country like the United States, it could be the second or third quarter before we see sufficient quantities of the vaccine to get everyone vaccinated in the country. Again, assuming we can get them vaccinated. So it makes sense that we're trying to find ways to stretch the vaccine, and one of the challenges has been having a two dose vaccine, is originally Operation Warp Speed demanded that for every dose that goes out, a dose gets saved without accounting for, with increasing production, could you vaccinate everybody today on first dose? And as production increases, continue doing first dose, but also then have enough excess capacity to then use that to go back and for dose two for everybody behind you so that as production ramps up that be done. I have to say, I'm very concerned about changing any of the recommendations how the vaccine be administered without additional scientific evidence. We need the scientific evidence. For example, if one looks at the studies that were done, it is absolutely true with both Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines, there was evidence of some protection within seven to 10 days of the first dose of vaccine. The problem is, if you look at the antibody from those studies, it largely was a non neutralizing antibody, the kind that we need to have to, in fact, actually be certain that we're getting good protection against the virus. We don't know, if we didn't give a second dose, how long after that that that first dose may protect you for. So the second dose is clearly what we call a boost on the prime, but it's also one that may take you to the next threshold where it's not just about your durability of protection, but even the extent of your protection. I am particularly worried about that in those high risk groups for serious illness with covid-19. Take a step back and look at influenza vaccine. I'll grant you, these are two totally different viruses, two totally different vaccines. It's notable that those individuals who are at highest risk for serious covid-19 related disease, including death, are the same people who are at increased risk for severe disease or even death from influenza. What have we learned from influenza vaccines? That by adding more antigen, or more of the vaccine, to the shot, adding adjuvants, or chemicals it can help boost the response, have meant that there's an improvement in these people that don't respond as well, who also have a much higher risk of serious disease. We don't know in the high risk groups of individuals for covid-19 that the second dose doesn't provide that same kind of boost phenomena. So, you know, I think we all have to be open minded. We have to understand that it would be great if we could get more vaccine quicker. But it's got to be based on the science. And we can't just go knee jerk and say, "Oh, well. You know, we got some protection with dose one". That may be a big problem. The brits obviously have made a decision to go ahead and do the one dose with a 12 to 18 week postponement for dose two so they get more people vaccinated with dose one. I'd love to see the scientific data that allowed them to make that decision. We already know that the AstraZeneca vaccine has some of its challenges on its original data presentation, whereby looking at lesser doses and more doses and the lesser dose being an accident in terms of the study design showed somewhere between 60 percent and up to 90 percent protection. Well that 60 percent's concerning to me, particularly now for the single dose, what does that mean? So I would just come back and say that the Food and Drug Administration put out a letter this week clearly laying out the justification for sticking with the current approach. I support it completely. Many of my colleagues who work in this area support it. And I would be the first to say again, if we can find a way to extend the vaccine supply, do it. One of the areas we're looking at right now is with Moderna, the vaccine. There may be an opportunity there because we are using one hundred microgram dose right now as the approved product. And there was actually an arm in the trial that used a 50 microgram dose and found virtually the same results as the hundred microgram dose. With that information, now it's science based information, ee could say, well, let's basically use half the amount of the Moderna vaccine and double the supply and anticipate getting the same results. So at this point, I would just urge us to stick with the science. We want more vaccine as quickly as we can, but the science has got to win out.

FDA Statement on Following the Authorized Dosing Schedules for COVID-19 Vaccines | FDA