We’ve known for a long time that our federal government is a bloated, blathering mess of bureaucracy that, despite being populated with public servants, doesn’t really serve the public much at all.
This is true from the freshest face in the House of Representatives, all the way to whoever’s putting their feet up on the Resolute Desk.
Even when we enact laws that are meant to specifically bring our government to heel, (like the Freedom of Information Act), they seem to find a way to disappoint us. Take the FDA, for example.
Freedom of Information Act requests are rarely speedy, but when a group of scientists asked the federal government to share the data it relied upon in licensing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the response went beyond typical bureaucratic foot-dragging.
As in 55 years beyond.
That’s how long the Food & Drug Administration in court papers this week proposes it should be given to review and release the trove of vaccine-related documents responsive to the request. If a federal judge in Texas agrees, plaintiffs Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency can expect to see the full record in 2076.
And just what, exactly, are they slow-walking?
Justice Department lawyers representing the FDA note in court papers that the plaintiffs are seeking a huge amount of vaccine-related material – about 329,000 pages.
The plaintiffs, a group of more than 30 professors and scientists from universities including Yale, Harvard, UCLA and Brown, filed suit in September in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, seeking expedited access to the records. They say that releasing the information could help reassure vaccine skeptics that the shot is indeed “safe and effective and, thus, increase confidence in the Pfizer vaccine.”
As of now, the FDA appears ready to begin releasing documents at a rate of 500 pages per month, continuing on until all relevant material is disclosed.
But how relevant will it be then?