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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/29/21

Dr. Peter Hotez: "Globalized Anti-Science Movement" Threatens Pandemic Response & Public Health

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The Biden administration has vowed to increase the rate of vaccinations as COVID-19 continues to spread uncontrollably across the entire U.S., with 90,000 people predicted to die in the next four weeks.President Biden announced plans to acquire another 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech and is devising ways to allow retired nurses and doctors to administer vaccines.

Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, says the Trump administration's lies and inaction around the pandemic laid the groundwork for the current explosion in cases. He also warns that a "globalized anti-science movement" has grown stronger in recent years, spreading dangerous disinformation and threatening the public health response to COVID-19. "It's a killer, because now people are tying their political allegiance to not getting vaccinated, to not wearing marks, to not social distancing."

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AMY GOODMAN: Another 4,000 people died in the United States from COVID-19 over the past day in what's been the deadliest month since the pandemic began. The Biden administration projects as many as 90,000 more people will die in the next four weeks as the virus spreads uncontrollably across the United States. The total number of recorded COVID deaths in North and South America has just topped a million nearly half the world's total. And that actual death toll is believed to be even higher.

On Wednesday, the Biden White House vowed to take more steps to increase the rate of vaccinations, after the Trump administration left behind no national vaccination plan. Biden's coronavirus adviser, Andy Slavitt, said it will take months before many people are vaccinated.

ANDY SLAVITT: We are taking action to increase supply and increase capacity. But even so, it will be months before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one.

AMY GOODMAN: To help speed up the effort, the Biden administration is devising ways to allow retired nurses and doctors to administer vaccines. Earlier this week, Biden announced plans to acquire another 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

The race to vaccinate the nation comes as more infectious and possibly more deadly variants of the virus are spreading across the globe, including variants originating in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa. On Wednesday, the Biden administration admitted the United States is far behind many other countries in genetic sequencing to track the different variants. By one ranking, the U.S. is 43rd in the world.

We now go to Houston, Texas, where we're joined by Dr. Peter Hotez. He's co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez is the author of the forthcoming Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-science.

Dr. Hotez, thanks so much for joining us. If you can explain right now the new approach that the Biden administration is taking here in the United States, the wealthiest country in the world, yet we have more than a fifth of the world's deaths and more than a fifth of the world's infections, with less than 5% of the population? What is happening? And why is the rollout so problematic, where about half what? 20 of 40 million vaccines are not accounted for?

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