Last week, we launched our Gain of Function Hall of Shame with a profile of Christian Hassell, the government scientist who chairs a secret committee known as P3CO (Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight). The P3CO is tasked with reviewing all gain-of-function experiments, including research that could be used to develop biological weapons from bat coronaviruses.
This week, we bring you Christian Hassell’s boss, Robert Kadlec.
Kadlec's title is Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In that role, Kadlec oversees a multi-billion-dollar stockpile of medical countermeasures to "defend" the American people against any biological threat, whether military, criminal, natural or accidental.
The stockpile overseen by Kadlec used to be housed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. But Kadlec fought to put it under his control.
In a normal year, this would mean Kadlec managing a budget of more than $2 billion. But with COVID-19 this year, Kadlec is spending $11.5 billion just on companies’ efforts to develop, manufacture, store and deliver new vaccines.
Kadlec’s responsibilities don’t end with his role at HHS. He also plays a big role in overseeing all federal biodefense activities and budgets. And he has a long track record of doling out big contracts to his buddies in the vaccine industry.