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To read more about Episode 189, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:01:40] This is Michael Moore and this is Rumble. Dr. Eric Topol is a scientist, cardiologist and an author. He’s the executive vice president of Scripps Research, which is one of the most important medical research institutions in the world. He also serves at Scripps as a professor of molecular medicine. Also, my niece is a physical therapist at the Scripps Hospital there.
Eric Topol [00:02:09] Oh, great.
Michael Moore [00:02:10] Yes, that’s the truth. Because in journalism, we think of Scripps in a different way because of the Scripps chain of newspapers. But they also have done all this fantastic work for science and medicine and whatever. Let me just mention before I welcome you here, his Twitter feed is @EricTopol, and I’m telling your friends it is a great resource for statistics and analysis during this COVID pandemic. I’m very pleased to welcome to Rumble, Dr. Eric Topol. Welcome.
Eric Topol [00:02:48] Oh, great to be with you, Michael. Really.
Michael Moore [00:02:50] Well, no. Thank you. Thank you for the work you’ve done. I love reading your Twitter feed. I know that’s not a thing most people will ever begin a sentence with. I love. Fill in the blank. Twitter. But the truth is that you put out so much good information that is easily digestible for just the average person who is not a doctor, doesn’t have a science degree. And also, I feel like when I’m reading what you put out that I’m reading somebody who’s not afraid to speak the truth, whether it’s good news or bad news. You’re not filtering it, so that I, the layperson can quote, handle it. So thank you for that.
Eric Topol [00:03:38] Oh, thank you. You know, that’s what I try to do. Tell it like it is.
Michael Moore [00:03:42] So tell me just a little bit just for the listeners. I mentioned this about my niece working at the hospital there. But what is Scripps and it’s in San Diego, right?
Eric Topol [00:03:55] So there’s really two different Scripps related to medicine and in science. There are different institutions – Scripps Clinic or Scripps Health. That’s where I see patients. But most of the work we do is in an entity called Scripps Research, which is, as you highlighted, is a premier biomedical research institute. So they are both committed to doing excellent work. But the one that I lead is really trying to make an impact, particularly during the pandemic of the best possible science that will ultimately have an impact for better health.
Michael Moore [00:04:37] And what does it have to do with in terms of COVID…your specific work?
Eric Topol [00:04:42] Right, well, almost everything you can imagine. So we have very active genomics, so I think we’re the second largest genome sequencing of the virus in the country. We also have the largest digital project where we track COVID through people’s Fitbit or fitness band or smartwatch. And we can pick up things like long COVID vaccine response, outbreaks of COVID, and we are working very hard on pan coronavirus vaccines. So instead of variant by variant, we would actually have a vaccine that would knock out all these viruses in the family, and we’re excited about that approach. Those are just a few examples of the kind of work we’re doing.
Michael Moore [00:05:29] So I’ve been really impressed with President Biden and how he’s handled this and how he’s moved very fast and very, very much forward, not backward. And it has been impressive. It has given me hope, but my heart sort of sank when he came out and he said, Look, you know, yes, we’re trying to achieve herd immunity. But what I want to just say now for our goal for July 4th is let’s try to get to 70 percent of the adult population by July 4th to have at least the first shot. And then we can have a nice July 4th. And I just went oh no. And the look on his face, too. It was like, I just felt like, you got some bad news that we weren’t going to make it, that we were never going to really have herd immunity, we weren’t going to get to 80 percent with both shots and and now he’s had to settle for what his advisors or people have told him.
Michael Moore [00:06:31] This is as far as we’re going to get. And I just was like yelling at the TV set, No, no, no, don’t, don’t, we can do better. Yes, I know we won’t get to 100. I know there’s going to be 20 percent who will just simply refuse to do it. But we can get to 80. A lot of people aren’t doing it because they’re afraid or, you know, they’ve got their first shot. And too many people told them how they had a fever after the second shot or their arm hurt and they didn’t…Five million haven’t gone back to get the second shot. So I just wanted to tell him, Don’t give up on us. Yeah, I know it’s difficult. If we were Belgium, there’d be just a few million people we’d have to convince, but we got 330 million, so I know it’s harder. Tell me that I should not give up hope here based on what seemed to be a fallback position that we’ll just try to get 70 percent to get one shot in them.
Eric Topol [00:07:31] Right. Well, I’m with you, Michael, that you don’t want to be complacent here or relax the goal. So the 70 percent by early July is probably attainable. It’s not going to be a slam dunk like the hundred million shots and then the two hundred million shots. But it’s attainable. But it’s not enough. There’s one thing that isn’t being taken into account that’s going to get us to 80 percent, and that is, if you will, the silver lining of having had a pandemic out of control in the U.S. throughout all of 2020, during which time we had well over 100 million Americans who got COVID and still have a very intact immune response. So although many of them are getting vaccinated, a lot of those people were the ones who were refractory to wearing masks and distancing themselves. And it’s estimated that 50 to 60 percent of those people are not going to be vaccinated, they’re in that 20 percent that you alluded to.
Eric Topol [00:08:33] So that isn’t being discussed as far as, you know, where we’re headed, why things are starting to improve throughout the country. Why we finally got below the 50,000 cases per day average, which is still a long ways to go. But we are making progress, and I do think we can get to that goal of at least 80 percent of people who have a strong immune response, be that natural or vaccine induced. As you know, if you have had prior COVID, you’re going to get another boost with the vaccine, one dose. So it isn’t that we shouldn’t encourage people who have had COVID not to get a vaccine, but a lot of people don’t even know they had it. So that’s why I think we’re going to get there.
Michael Moore [00:09:24] You think we’re going to get there because you’re combining the number of people who’ve had COVID with those who have gotten at least one shot? And also what I think as we’re recording this, 37 percent now have had those, who needed two shots, have gotten the two shots. You think all that combined is enough to get us there? And if it is then why does Biden seem so, I mean, he’s an upbeat sort of guy, but he’s not a phony, you know what I’m saying? I mean, he kind of lays it out straight and, you know, no matter how many times that dog bites somebody in the White House, that dog isn’t going away. So, you know what I’m saying, there’s something honest about Biden.
Eric Topol [00:10:11] Well, I think you’ve touched on an important point is: he’s responding to advisers. And this term, herd immunity, which is quite misleading, actually, is somewhat confusing because what we really want to get is, you know, as a few cases a day in this country as possible right now, we’re about, you know, 15 per 100,000 and the UK and Israel, which have really kind of led the charge of vaccine campaigns, they’re down to less than one in Israel or two in the UK. So we have a long way to go and whatever it takes to get us down to that one or less per 100,000 people, that’s when we get control – true containment. If you want to call that herd immunity, you can call it whatever you want. But that’s really what we’re talking about.
Eric Topol [00:11:02] And the problem is that people got the idea that you’re going to get to zero. Well, you know, Michael, we can’t get to zero because we screwed it up so bad. The first year we basically didn’t have any testing for two months and we let this virus spread throughout the country and get routed. And now if we can get to one per 100,000, that’s damn impressive, considering how big this country is and its population. I think we’ll get there, but it’s going to take a lot more work and it’s going to be, this reach, actually is a reach goal of the 70 percent of first dose, but we can’t stop there. We’ve got to keep going.
Michael Moore [00:11:40] Do you think it’s possible? Do you think we can do this?
Eric Topol [00:11:45] Well, I think there’s many strategies we haven’t even started with. Like, first example, since we talked about a health system, why isn’t every health system mandating every health care worker to get vaccinated? We’ve had hundreds of millions of people who’ve had these vaccines. They’re extraordinarily safe. We mandate flu shots and the flu is, you know, one tenth as lethal, if not more than COVID. And we also have a vaccine that’s 95 percent effective. Flu vaccines are like 40 percent effective. So that should be done and no less we’re seeing universities start mandating vaccination.
Michael Moore [00:12:27] But why? Why isn’t it being done? I mean, at my hospital, you’re right, it’s not mandated. Yeah. Other hospitals, it’s not mandated. Clinics where doctors and nurses are. It’s not mandated now. I read a statistic that said 90 percent of doctors have gone. But that means 10 percent of doctors are saying to hell with it. I don’t need the vaccine. Nurses. It’s not anywhere near 90 percent. Well, I don’t understand why. Why is this just not a rule in a health care facility? Why isn’t it, though?
Eric Topol [00:13:01] And the reason is there’s this excuse that’s being used that it’s a vaccine that has emergency authorization, not full licensure, which is a technicality, which is requiring the FDA to issue a so-called BLA (biologic licensing). And that’s not going to happen until sometime in the summer at best. So this is a formality, right? When you have such extraordinary safety and efficacy profile around the world and powerful vaccines that will, you know, crush this virus, the fact that we’re waiting for this, you know, waiting for Godot, it’s just crazy. So that’s the problem we have right now is that we are hiding, you know, we’re using inappropriately this full licensure excuse now.
Eric Topol [00:13:50] There have been some health systems, you know, like Houston Methodist, a few around the country that are starting to mandate it. And we’ve seen at least 80 universities now come out. But we’ve got to do that much more. And that’s the quickest way, including employers, large employers to get us on track. There are many other ways, of course, besides mandating, but you know that those are the things that President Biden alluded to, which is, you know, making it ultra convenient, dealing with a counter offensive of disinformation, which is, you know, profound out there.
Michael Moore [00:14:28] It is profound, yeah.
Eric Topol [00:14:29] And we’re not taking that seriously, but also the things like, you know, the education on safety. So many people still think that this is unsafe, that it was rushed, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It actually went through a very rigorous review. So, you know, I think we have a lot to do to get this, we will get well beyond 70 percent, and I am with you, Michael, on your point about, let’s get to 80. Let’s not stop there. We have phenomenal miracle like vaccines that there’s never been a vaccine except for HPV that has this efficacy, no less the safety track record. And so why not take advantage of it and get as high a proportion of the population as possible to get protected?
Michael Moore [00:15:18] Speak to the people who are listening to this right now who have not gotten their shots yet because they’re afraid. They have, I mean, legitimately or not, we have a thing in us as human beings. A thing of fear, we have a kind of built in filter that lets us know when we need to be afraid, when we need to run for cover, when we need to call 9-1-1. You know, and we seem to know when those times are. This seems to be like it should be one of those times. The shot is free. I went and got my shot. I couldn’t believe it. I not only didn’t have to pull out my wallet, I literally didn’t have to show…They didn’t want my credit card. They didn’t want my health care card. They didn’t want anything but my name and they wanted my birthday.
Eric Topol [00:16:19] That’s right. You had your first taste of universal health care.
Michael Moore [00:16:23] That’s what I said to everyone. I said, I think, Biden has unexpectedly given us Medicare For All, except you didn’t even have to show a Medicare card, right? But I shouldn’t. You know, for lots of friends who are listening to this, don’t tell your conservative brother in law that he’ll be getting his first shot of socialism or socialized medicine. Don’t repeat what I just said. But Dr. Topol, seriously, what can you say? Because I know that there’s, I’m not talking about MAGA people, who are not getting their shots out of loyalty to Donald Trump. I run across way too many people that have said many of the things you just said that the shot was rushed. We don’t know. We’ve never had this virus before. Trump was pushing it to get it done, so he could get reelected, on and on and on. The big one I hear, I’m stunned to hear this one: the fetal tissue argument.
Eric Topol [00:17:28] Oh wow. The stuff that gets made up, I mean, it’s amazing.
Michael Moore [00:17:34] Yes. So what do you say? Let’s assume if they’re not listening to me right now, their brother or their sister or their coworker is, and I want them to be able to take from you to them, the facts.
Eric Topol [00:17:47] Right, well, firstly, you know, back in December, when we first had the vaccines out there, the mRNA vaccines, you know, Pfizer and Moderna, we only had the clinical trials. We only had 75,000 people with a placebo controlled trial. And those were the largest trials in vaccines ever done. But still, you could say, OK, well, maybe there were some things that could happen that they just didn’t see and it would take millions. Now we have hundreds of millions of people, you know, hundreds of millions, almost, you know, 400 million people have gotten the vaccines that we’re using in the United States, and we’ve yet to see serious side effects. I mean, it’s really remarkable. The worst case scenario for the most part is just, you know, the flu-like illness. Now the funny thing about that, Mike, was I had that on my second dose. I kind of expected I would and, you know, a good, solid day I was kind of knocked out. And I was thinking the whole day, this is a whole lot better than getting COVID any time.
Eric Topol [00:18:50] But my wife, you know, she always has reactions to medications and she was really afraid of getting the vaccine, especially, the second dose. And I, you know, had to convince her that it was worthwhile and that she’s going to be OK. And she had the second dose. She didn’t even know she’d had it, you know, besides having a sore arm. But when I talked to patients, which is a common thing that needs to have that kind of extra support that they’re going to be fine. You know, it could be like our son who is afraid of needles, or it could be a safety concern.
Eric Topol [00:19:28] The idea is that it’s not just being afraid that is of COVID, which you just don’t know, even if you think you’re healthy, you think you have a great immune system, this is a very nasty, rough virus and anybody can get. It doesn’t matter how healthy you think you are. But the other thing is: being afraid of getting someone else inadvertently infected and hurt, possibly even dying. That’s what people need to be concerned about is: not just themselves, but the effect on others, even unwittingly. And I think these are the things that helped convince people that it’s worth the idea of, you know, a sore arm or flu-like illness for a day for those trade offs.
Michael Moore [00:20:15] So what you’re saying is that our concern for our fellow human beings should be enough for us just to even do this. I mean, I’m saying that with a straight face because I feel sad that as a society, we’ve grown to a point where so many people, the narcissism of our time, to where we’ve sort of glommed on to what’s best for me. You know, this is about me. Oh, real estate prices are up. Oh, how can this be good for me? Even though it might be really bad for the other half of the people. You know it’s good for me, then it’s good for me. And so I feel, maybe I’m just too…I used to feel more hopeful and optimistic about my fellow human beings. And now I don’t know. And you know, listen, honestly, you could just be because the kid in the apartment above me in this apartment building keeps playing basketball on their wood floor. And I’m starting to look a little bit like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. So I’m just saying it could be just that, that I’ve been inside for too long during the last year.
Eric Topol [00:21:42] But well, it’s also the incentives. That is, you know, the CDC has been very rigid about mass and the incentives of getting vaccinated, and I think that’s part of the problem we’re having. People don’t realize you get reentry, you get to pre-COVID life. I mean, real life. And so you don’t have to feel like you’re you’re doing this without being vaccinated, but here you are, you’re getting back into the mainstream, whether it’s, you know, going out to be with other people, with friends, getting to, you know, go to a shopping mall or a restaurant, going to work, getting to travel, whatever you’re doing. You’re going to be doing it more safely. And so that confidence, you know, putting the CDC guidelines aside. Because they’ve been very, very extra cautious. That’s one of the most important things about an incentive for people to get vaccinated.
Michael Moore [00:22:38] Yes, I actually. I have started to do some things that I haven’t done in over a year and it feels really good. You know, I mean, I guess I’m probably just taking baby steps at this point because I’m being extra careful. But I don’t want to be the cause of somebody else getting COVID. I still wear my mask even though I have, you know, both shots of the Pfizer vaccine. And by the way, on my second shot, I didn’t feel a thing. In fact, I had to actually, I asked the nurse, Are you sure there was anything in the syringe? You know, because I watched enough medical shows to know that if there was just air in the syringe, that’s on its way to my heart and I’m about to die in a minute or two. No, she said, The syringe was full. I said, I honest to God, I did not feel it go in and a day later, I still didn’t feel anything. Two days later, I didn’t feel anything.
Eric Topol [00:23:43] Well, you know, that’s what most people don’t realize. Because they hear, like my experience of, you know, of feeling like I had the flu for a day. But two thirds of people don’t feel anything when they get the shot. Even the second dose, you know, at all. But interestingly, when we check their heart rate through a sensor, like their fitness band or their watch, we can see a signal for two days. You know, their body is churning out that really great immune response through their heart rate. So we know that even though you don’t feel anything, it’s working. It’s a really remarkable vaccine. That’s why we’re so darn lucky. And it’s just unfortunate that there’s this anti-science and fear stuff out there because we may not see another vaccine with this profile of power and safety for a long, long time.
Eric Topol [00:24:34] We’ve only seen one other one in the history of vaccinology.
Michael Moore [00:24:37] And that was what?
Eric Topol [00:24:39] That was the HPV vaccine, that had this similar 95 percent efficacy. Otherwise, we just don’t have this. I mean, most vaccines are not as effective and don’t have this kind of safety profile and don’t take 10 months to develop from the time of having a sequence of the virus. I mean, we just move at a velocity that’s unprecedented. And fortunately, the virus, that spike protein of the virus, proved to be like hitting the side of the barn target. I mean, every vaccine works really well, especially the ones that are licensed out in the U.S. So we got lucky in that respect. And the fact is, the vaccines that we have are working against all the variants – South Africa, United Kingdom, Brazil, all of them, New York, California. We’ve got really powerful vaccines and we are so damn fortunate.
Michael Moore [00:25:39] And so I love your optimism here. Does it carry over to the other things that we are hearing now, because it seems like all the governors are wanting to just reopen everything, get it all open, crowd back into theaters into enclosed, you know, indoor spaces that don’t have windows? Does this sound right to you or are we going too fast?
Eric Topol [00:26:06] Well, you know, I think the problem we have and I think you have commented on this, too, Michael. We don’t have a national strategy or one that we can enforce. That is we’re balkanized with each of these states that are doing their own thing. So we’re not all working together. And the problem with that is if you’re a state like, you know, Vermont or New Hampshire, you know, you’ve got exemplary vaccination, you’re way out there. You’re already 15-17 percent above some of these red states that are just not, you know, with the program. You know, then opening up is reasonable. But opening up when you have poor vaccine coverage in your state, that’s a problem. But we don’t have a way centrally as a nation to, you know, have this concordance.
Eric Topol [00:26:56] This, you know, definitive strategy to control and not just for one day or one week, but durably get out of this pandemic. And the reason why that also has rippling waves is that it isn’t like this virus obeys, you know, state borders. So the states that are not doing a good job, those people are going to be traveling more to other places and we’re going to see outbreaks. So that’s why we really need a cohesive national strategy. And that’s unfortunate because, you know, many governors are just doing their own thing.
Michael Moore [00:27:33] So are you saying there’s no way we can get that, that we can make that happen?
Eric Topol [00:27:36] I think there’s probably ways to do it, but you know, we haven’t. We certainly hadn’t, it was out of control totally throughout last year. But, you know, now the question is, are we going to get some teeth and say, you know what, if you’re a state that only has 30 some percent people vaccinated, whereas others are, you know, 55-60 percent, we have to, you know, get into a remedial plan here before you can start opening everything up. Because you’re going to expose the rest of the country and we’re going to be able to trace these outbreaks with genomic surveillance about where they came from. And invariably, they’re going to be places that have, you know, soft vaccine coverage. So, you know, I don’t know the legality of this, but because of this state, kind of supremacy of these decisions, that puts us at a disadvantage as opposed to countries like the UK and Israel where they’ve got, you know, one health care system, one nation. And there’s not, you know, this balkanization.
Michael Moore [00:28:40] Well, I would hope that would happen in our lifetime. I would like it would happen in the next four years, that we have one universal health care plan in this country. It just seems to make common sense, and it shouldn’t be a thing about Democrats or Republicans. It should just be, this is the smart way to do things. You know, we have one federal highway system. It has certain procedures of how thick the cement should be, how we build the road and the bridge, and the tunnel. And nobody seems to complain about that. You know, West Virginia should be able to build its own bridges the way they want to build them. Nobody would say something like that. So the fact that we wouldn’t treat our own health, that should be at the top of the list in terms of what we’re concerned about.
Eric Topol [00:29:35] Yeah and especially when you have a common enemy that’s been so destructive, that’s taken out, you know, now almost 600,000 lives and according to the revised excess mortality, closer to a million American lives no less. All the long haul COVID out there in perhaps 10 percent of people of, you know, 30-40 million people, who have been infected. So, you know, if we had this common enemy and a uniform response, we’d be doing even better than we are right now, which is, you know, we’re getting better. We’re starting to achieve control for the first time. But, you know, we would be much further along if we are all working against this virus together.
Michael Moore [00:30:23] What do you think in terms of what do you feel is safe to start reopening now and what do you think we should just maybe slow down a bit on?
Eric Topol [00:30:31] Well, when you have people with the first dose, you know, overall we have 45 percent in the country right now. And 57 percent in adults. But that’s the average, that’s the overall country. We have certain states that are positive outliers, particularly in the Northeast, that are well beyond that are, you know, 60-65 percent adult, 70 percent even. And these are states that, you know, they probably can be wide open. That’s what we’ve seen in Israel, the U.K. and other countries that have had excellent levels. When you start to get a level that is as high as that, you can certainly relax all the concerns, you know, the mitigation measures and get away with it. That is, you don’t see a recrudescence of the case.
Eric Topol [00:31:27] So that’s what we are already seeing. The states that are leading the vaccination that are really having, you know, excellent case reduction and containment and hopefully we’ll just build on that. The difference, Michael, is striking in the UK and Israel, over 95 percent of people over age 50 have taken the vaccine. Ninety five percent and we’re struggling, you know, we’re like 60 percent over age 50. 65 percent, right? So the gap here for the people at risk, obviously age is a cardinal risk factor. So we just don’t, you know, when I asked my UK colleagues, how do you get to 95 percent and we can’t even, you know, get in the 60s?
Eric Topol [00:32:14] They say, Well, we don’t have Fox News over here. You know, they say we don’t have the anti-science like you do. And you know, we haven’t done anything to take that on. You know, seriously, like what you mentioned, the idea of having fetal cells or that there’s a chip in the vaccine that’s tracking people, all this cockamamie stuff. We don’t do anything, and you know, Fox News is putting out toxic stuff every day. We do nothing to reign that in. So the U.K. and states and places that don’t have all this disinformation, that seems to be what separates 95 percent versus 67 percent.
Michael Moore [00:32:56] So and this is really depressing because you think about, are we that stupid? I don’t think of the Brits as being more intelligent than us. I almost said more smarter than…and that would have disproved my point. But seriously, though, it’s like, how? Why are we so gullible? Why are so many of us so gullible to this? And when did science become the enemy? You know, my dad was a factory worker. General Motors assembly line worker, UAW member. You know these were all blue collar working class guys, white and Black in Flint, Michigan. And, you know, I remember when I was just a little tiny tyke, but I remember President Kennedy running and they were all so excited about voting for Kennedy, not only just because he was a Democrat and he was pro-union and this and that, but because he was smart. They loved the fact that he was smarter than them, right? They thought it was good that he went to Harvard. You know, it was a good thing for factory workers. And it was like, where did we make the turn that being smart was bad? It just has blown my mind.
Eric Topol [00:34:22] Well, you know, it’s a really important point you’re making. You know, we didn’t really have a major vaccine sector in this country until the likes of Andrew Wakefield and the fabricated data published in The Lancet a number of years ago. And we’ve never been able to get control of that with some celebrities that, you know, continue to endorse this whole idea of the ignorance that people would get autism from a vaccine. Now what happened last year with Trump, who didn’t want to wear a mask and was anti-science and pushing medications like hydroxychloroquine, calling convalescent plasma the very historic breakthrough we got into a new phase of intensive anti-science. And there’s like a sub-cult or a culture that was bred by that, nurtured by that, and these people just won’t let go. And that’s what we’re dealing with now. And it’s just, you know, really unfortunate.
Michael Moore [00:38:10] How do we reach out and hold our hand out to otherwise good people who’ve just bought into this insanity? I just think about this everyday and every day, it seems like I run across somebody who says to me that they just don’t trust it. And these are what I would think of as liberally minded people. And I don’t know what to say.
Eric Topol [00:38:38] Well, I mean, there’s probably within that group of people that are, you know, being fed this misinformation. There are probably people that are receptive enough, open minded that they will learn what is the truth and what’s been, you know, truly fabricated. But we’re not taking it on. I mean, a good example is last night I was watching the interview of Jimmy Kimmel and Tony Fauci. And during that interview, Jimmy Kimmel, played a Tucker Carlson clip as part of the Q&A to Tony Fauci. And Tony is just too gentle. Instead of saying, you know, he’s lying and this is wrong, we don’t have are the leaders in our country, whether it’s the president or, you know, Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, or Tony Fauci, or any of the major spokespeople who are basically setting the record straight. They’re gentle. We don’t have a fact checker for this country of the conduits of disinformation, and that is a problem. And, you know, I think until we get that, we that subgroup of people who have been fed this disinformation who could be converted to reality, you know, we’re not going to get them converted.
Michael Moore [00:40:00] But we used to have doctors. I remember growing up, there were doctors who were very, very forceful in their speaking and in their sharing of the facts. You know, with the American public and people would listen to them. Strong voices. I even remember Dr. Spock, the baby doctor. Right, right, he was an outspoken doctor and got a whole generation to think differently about babies and how to raise them, you know, without throwing them against the wall because they weren’t, you know, the baby wasn’t walking by one year old, so you picked the kid up, throw him against the wall. Goddammit, start walking. You know he changed the culture and societal culture of how to treat babies and children and those voices, I mean, this is why I appreciate your voice. But we don’t have the sort of, what you just described, the kind of forcefulness of, look, these are the facts. Right?
Eric Topol [00:41:09] Yeah, no. We’ve obscured what is truth and facts over the last four years, with an administration that, you know, was lying profoundly and especially when it came to the pandemic. And now that blurring without a force, you know, we can’t have gentle stuff to get this on track. In terms of these are the facts. This is what you need to know. And this is what is wrong and untruthful and actual frank lying. We don’t have a medium yet established to do that. I wish we would get that going.
Michael Moore [00:41:45] There is you. I mean, you don’t get in trouble saying the things you say?
Eric Topol [00:41:51] I get the trolls on Twitter that, you know, I just mute or block them, whatever. No, I don’t get it. I can deal with that. And, you know, when I do have opportunities to be on CNN or whatever slots that I’m doing, I just tell it like it is. And, you know, I’m sure there’s some people that complain or think that it may not be true because they’ve been trained by other news outlets, particularly Fox News, but perhaps others. But, you know, I just think we just don’t have enough of that. We have this gentle approach, which is, you know, we’ll just instead of taking on the disinformation, we will just kind of gently put out what is truthful without confronting it. Yeah, that’s the counter offensive that’s missing, which would help us, I think.
Michael Moore [00:42:44] But when you do that, you don’t get a call after you’re on CNN from Mr. Scripps or whoever the head of the Scripps Research Center is.
Eric Topol [00:42:53] Oh no, no.
Michael Moore [00:42:54] Hey, Eric, tone it down there. Tone it down there.
Eric Topol [00:42:58] Never had that. The worse thing will be I’ll get an email if people find my email and, you know, send something really vulgar to me. But no, no, where I work people are very happy to see me standing up for the facts and in what’s true of what we know in the pandemic and with vaccines and the virus and whatever. So no, that’s not been an issue at all, Michael.
Michael Moore [00:43:24] And also maybe, I mean, because you’re so well known and so respected, you have a chair named after you or something at the University of Michigan. I mean, is it a chair or is it a chair? What’s it called?
Eric Topol [00:43:43] Yeah, it’s a chair. Endowed chair of the University of Michigan, the Topol chair.
Michael Moore [00:43:46] All right, not a full living room set, but you have the Topol chair. I have been begging Michigan State just to name a La-Z-Boy after me, you know. And I would teach for free, but I’m just so…but my point is, all kidding aside, is that this is so serious. Gentility is not what is called for in the moment that we find ourselves in. And sometimes I just sit here and I feel bad for you, I have for a time and I just, you know, wish we would just say it because people would let out such a scream of relief if we would just say what needs to be said because I don’t think we need to pamper the public. I think people know the seriousness of what was reported from the University of Washington and that fine medical department they have there. Nearly 600,000 dead from COVID in the United States. It’s probably closer to 900,000.
Eric Topol [00:45:04] That’s right. I mean, exactly, you know, I think they’re dated.
Michael Moore [00:45:08] Explain that.
Eric Topol [00:45:09] Yeah. So the underreporting of deaths, because the way that you can best calculate it, because there are a lot of people who have died from COVID that never made it to the hospital or were miscategorized. But the best way to do it is to look at prior years, at the same time, and see what is the excess mortality. And that’s been used now, not just in the U.S. but around the world. And what we’re seeing is we only capture, yeah, you know, 40 percent or 60 percent or in some countries, 50 percent of the actual number of deaths that can be attributable to COVID. So yeah, we’re pushing a million. That’s probably the true number in this country or will be in the weeks ahead.
Eric Topol [00:45:53] And I think that still misses the point regarding not just loss of lives, but the quality of life through long COVID. I have, you know, many colleagues and patients who are still suffering. Yes, months later from long COVID. And we know that doesn’t get enough respect. So the best way of preventing long COVID and people dying is to squash this virus and to crush it and get us down to as close to zero, we’ll take one out of 100,000 people. That will be our goal and we will get there. If we get this 70 percent by July, we’ll look pretty good and keep pushing. And because we have that cushion of the 100 million people plus who’ve had prior COVID, that’s going to help us and we will this year, certainly by late summer, I think be in excellent shape.
Michael Moore [00:46:49] And by crushing it, you mean get vaccinated. Get as many people vaccinated as possible,
Eric Topol [00:46:55] Exactly. As fast as we can. Get ahead of the virus. We’re in a race with this virus and the sooner we get there, at that highest level possible, the sooner we really get to that. You know, we contain it. When I say contain it, if you get down to one per 100,000 people with COVID or, you know, yeah, close or less than that, that should be the goal. Forget this silly concept that the herd just lifts one per 100,000, and we’re golden.
Michael Moore [00:47:28] Drop the herd is what you’re saying.
Eric Topol [00:47:30] Yeah, yeah. Now we’ve heard enough of the herd.
Michael Moore [00:47:32] We’ve heard enough of the herd. Just everybody get vaccinated and because we want to get ahead of it, because there’s these new variants that are coming and you want to beat that variant.
Eric Topol [00:47:43] Yeah. Once you’ve got your immune system revved up, the variants, you know, we’ve now learned, we have not yet seen a variant that isn’t responsive to the vaccine we’ve got in the U.S. So as long as we get people, their immune systems revved up, you know, we’re good. And we’ll stay good. I mean, we’ve got other parts of the world that are definitely in trouble. But this country, if we get that protection at the highest possible level, we’ll stay, we’ll have built the wall, the right kind of wall, Michael. The right kind of wall that is against COVID.
Michael Moore [00:48:19] Would you go see a movie in a movie theater tonight?
Eric Topol [00:48:22] No, no, no. We’re not ready for that. No, but we will be, if we stay with this.
Michael Moore [00:48:30] Maybe by the fall?
Eric Topol [00:48:33] Oh for sure. You know, we got in this country to 4.6 million vaccine doses in a day. That’s incredible. And if we keep pushing to get to that point, that’s when we’ll get to the movie theater even earlier. All right.
Michael Moore [00:48:50] Well, that should be a good incentive. At least it would be for me. But for other people who want to do it, go and do other things, the sooner the better. Any final words that you’d like to share? You’re talking to hopefully a few hundred thousand people here. You know, what would you like to say to the people who are listening?
Eric Topol [00:49:12] I would just say, you know, we’re really lucky. We are so fortunate that we have, just think, if we didn’t have these vaccines, where we’d be right now. We would be in the millions of people dying. Yeah, and tens of millions of people with long COVID and hospitalized. So, you know, we are really lucky. The fact that all these variants come along and we still can squash them with this vaccine. So I just think, don’t miss out on this lock free vaccine, it’s free. They’re so protective. It has almost no significant durable side effects. I mean, it’s just remarkable. This, as I’ve written, is the most impressive biomedical triumph in history.
Michael Moore [00:50:01] Wow.
Eric Topol [00:50:01] So take advantage of it. I mean, we may not see something like this again for generations. So successful in life, science, and medicine.
Michael Moore [00:50:13] Well, thank you for the work you do. Thank you for the things you’ve said here. And I encourage everybody to please, please, please, please go get your shot. And if you’ve got your first shot and you’re scared to get the second one, don’t be. Go get that second shot. All right. You, you are more likely, Mrs. Eric Topol, than you are Eric Topol.
Eric Topol [00:50:42] Exactly right.
Michael Moore [00:50:45] Sorry, I didn’t mean to. Well, we live in a different time now. We don’t refer to her as Mrs. Eric Topol. God that sounds so 1950s slang. But no, seriously, though, don’t be afraid, do not be afraid. Science has our back here.
Eric Topol [00:51:07] You got it, yeah.
Michael Moore [00:51:08] All right. Well, Dr. Eric Topol from the Scripps Research Center. All the good work you’ve done out there in San Diego and elsewhere and all the good facts that you give the public via social media, it’s much appreciated. Keep doing the work you’re doing. Keep going on CNN. Let’s get this word out there. We can lick it this summer. We can do it. I do believe that. And anybody who sees my movies or listens to me knows that I am not optimistic, but I and I have every cynical, critical bone in my body still there. And I’m telling you, I believe in this and I encourage everybody to get vaccinated.
Eric Topol [00:51:58] Well, thanks for all you’re doing, Michael. A real pleasure to be with you today.
Michael Moore [00:52:02] Likewise, thank you. Thank you so much, Dr. Eric Topol. And thank you all of you, who’ve listened to Rumble today. This is Michael Moore and this is Rumble.