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To read more about Episode 202, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:01:26] This is Rumble and I am Michael Moore. Welcome, everyone. A new report by the World Health Organization has confirmed what we should already know. Maybe some of you have seen this coming, but Covid cases once again are on the rise. And I mean a sharp rise in the last couple of weeks. We are still in the middle of this pandemic and we have a long ways to go to get out of it. Those of you who have been following me and listening to this podcast for the last year or so, when we began, just before Covid hit and in the days and weeks after Covid, I started talking about this and even before the lockdown. And we had different scientists, doctors, et cetera, I talked to them. A couple of them came on this podcast. I remember Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who was a top doctor at one point at the NIH, saying that this is actually going to be a 3 to 4 year pandemic. And I was like, what? And he said, no, this is going to be a 3 to 4 year pandemic.
Michael Moore [00:02:44] This is a virus we haven’t seen. And, you know, we’ve seen things similar, maybe, but not this. And I remember thinking at the time, well, I’m glad he said it because I hadn’t heard anybody say that. But I thought, man, he’s going to be in trouble nonetheless. Talking here last night to some family, you realize that as crazy as that might have sounded a year and 4 months ago, 5 months ago, that we are only 5 months away, the first Covid case was that was known that we knew about in December of 2019. We’re only 5 months away from that. Let me put it this way. We’re 5 months away from entering year 3 of the pandemic. And it might be that it hasn’t been that long, is it? I’ll just do the math. All right. December of ’19 to December ’20, there is year 1, December ’20 to December of ’21, which is coming up. That’s the end of year two. And that means year three starts.
Michael Moore [00:03:50] I have been saying on this podcast for some time that the more we stick our heads in the sand on this, because we just want to hear good news, we want to get the kids back to school, all these things to sick and tired of wearing masks. All this stuff is going to be our undoing because we’re uncomfortable, we’re unhappy. And therefore, I want to be happy and I want to be at the ballpark and I want to be at the beach and I want to be out with human beings. That’s all very understandable. And I feel the same way that all of you feel. And yet, if we’re still in the middle of this, we hear about these new variants, we say to ourselves, oh, that’s in India. We’re safe, we’re ok here because we have vaccines and we’ve been doing the right thing and all this. Or that’s in Brazil, but this started because that’s in, well, that’s in Wuhan. I mean, I’m fairly well read. I’d never heard of the city of Wuhan. It’s got a population that’s like 50-70 percent larger than New York City. I never heard of it.
Michael Moore [00:05:02] How did it get from Wuhan to where I live in northern Michigan in a rural area of the north? How are people getting Covid? We’ve looked at this the wrong way and we have this sort of American exceptionalism, the things that we’ve got some kind of Game of Thrones, you know, wall around us, protecting us, ignorance. Ignorance historically leads to one’s end. And intelligence and information and science that leads us to a better place. So I will continue to be an advocate for this and we scrapped what we were going to do on today’s podcast, because I want to dive right into this without fear and talk about what we may be in the middle of and what may be coming at us like a Mack Truck just months down the road.
Michael Moore [00:05:56] And I want to talk about our American way of looking at this and not understanding how what happens to the rest of the world happens to us and what happens to us happens to the rest of the world and to divorce ourselves from that is maybe our biggest crime because we are only causing and will cause more death, not not just here, but around the world. And there has been one person among a few others, and I’ve had them here on the podcast, these wonderful doctors, 1 person who has been trying to tell us something and it’s about our connection to the world and it’s about what we need to do in terms of getting people vaccinated and fighting the forces that are out there that have convinced way too many millions of Americans not to get vaccinated.
Michael Moore [00:06:47] So this new report from the World Health Organization and the increases over the last couple of weeks, we now have nearly a half a million new cases. That had been reported each day in the last 7 days, ending on July 18th, and it’s because of this rise of the Delta variant. And it’s now spread to 124 countries. In addition to the Delta variant, we’re also dealing with the global pandemic of misinformation, this information about vaccines and about everything else related to public health. And as businesses have now opened up this summer and schools are planning to open up in a few weeks, the months ahead may get very ugly and sadly very deadly. Do not turn off this podcast by friends. You need to hear what we’re going to talk about, one of the few people fighting this pandemic of misinformation. We have many great doctors and scientists fighting the pandemic, but we have a few who are also fighting the pandemic of misinformation. And that is our guest here today on Rumble, Dr. Peter Hotez. He is the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital. And he is the Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. His latest book is “Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-science.” I’m very pleased to welcome him to Rumble for the first time. Welcome, Dr. Hotez.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:08:34] That’s a very kind introduction, Michael. Thank you so much.
Michael Moore [00:08:37] Well, you are working on this on so many levels. First of all, the vaccine center that you and the other doctors are working on, there’s this great piece in Texas Monthly here this past month about what you guys are doing to create a vaccine that can especially get to third world countries. That is not uber expensive. And you all seem to have, from my reading of this, this sort of Jonas Salk approach, you are not doing this to become multimillionaires. You are doing this to save lives.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:09:19] So you’re right, I’m a vaccine scientist and co-head the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s with my science partner for the last 20 years, Dr. Maria Elena Bottazi. And I got my Ph.D. in New York in the ’80s to develop vaccines for parasitic infections of the poor. But around 10 years ago, we adopted a Coronavirus vaccine program because nobody cared about Coronavirus vaccines back then. And we started developing vaccines for SARS and MERS and now Covid-19. So we’ve developed what we think is going to be one of the first low-cost people’s vaccines for Covid-19. And we did not file patents. We put everything out in the public domain. We’ve licensed it now to India, to Indonesia, where South Africa. And the hope is that’ll fill the gap because, you know, everybody’s so focused on innovation that nobody really cared about developing a durable vaccine that would actually be widely distributed on the African continent where no one’s being vaccinated right now, or South America or Southeast Asia. So that’s very exciting.
Michael Moore [00:10:30] What you and Dr. Bottazi have done in terms of here you are, I got to be honest, I didn’t even know that you were working on this, you and her and your other partners there, and that’s gone through a number of trials already in other countries, the efficacy rate so far, what they found is around 85 percent. And, you know, that’s right up there with, you know, next to Pfizer and Moderna. And you’ve done this. And then you said you’re not going to file for a patent, that you want to get this out there to people that no one in Africa is getting vaccinated. India is having a horrible problem. Other poor countries. I’m sorry to interrupt and I want you to go back to what you’re saying, but I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for doing that. And thank you for doing it for all the right reasons. No judgment against anybody who’s doing it for the wrong reasons, ’cause if you’ve done it and you’ve saved lives, I kind of don’t care at the moment. But I do want to point out that there are people like you and others there at Baylor and elsewhere there and who you’re working around the clock to try and save lives in countries where they don’t have the money to save lives. And not only is that righteous for those of you doing that for those countries, but for Americans who need to hear this, it helps us, too, because there’s no such thing as borderlines, countries borders with a pandemic. And if we don’t have that through our thick skulls right now, we are never going to get rid of this, that we are all connected on this planet to this.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:12:14] Thank you. We’re going to continually be besieged by variants. I mean, one of the reasons, although the practical reason we don’t file patents is it’s expensive as hell. And we’re a non-profit doing this in an academic health center. So if I have $100,000 dollars, I’d rather hire a top scientist rather than, you know, waste money filing for patent filing fees. And so we’ve won. One of the things that we’re trying to explore is there’s no roadmap here because we’re making the vaccines nobody else will make.
Michael Moore [00:12:46] What does that mean when you say that?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:12:47] Well, you know, for instance, we have a vaccine for Chagas disease, which is a disease of the world, of the 6, 7 million poorest people in Latin America. Or schistosomiasis. Female genital schistosomiasis is a disease of 40 million girls and women who live in extreme poverty in Africa. No one else will make that vaccine. So we’re trying to pioneer this concept, not only in the science, which is really cool and interesting, but also see if there’s a sustainable business model out there that can allow you to make and develop these vaccines, and I think for me, that’s one of the hardest parts, is trying to, you know, raise the funding and and pioneer that model. When I’m, you know, I’m often after I give a lecture pre-pandemic, I’d have a line of young people come up to me saying they want to go into global health. And they’d often be profoundly disappointed when I told them to get an MBA and help us figure out what the sustainable finance model is and I think there’s one out there that’s the part I haven’t don’t have the skill set to figure out yet, but we’ve done pretty well. We’ve got a lot of vaccines at the clinical trials from discovery and now this Covid vaccine – we hope will be released for emergency use authorization.
Michael Moore [00:14:02] What is the name of your vaccine that you have been working on for Covid?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:14:05] Well, you know, it’s for us, it’s just a Texas children’s vaccine. But the one that we licensed to Biological E, which is one of the big vaccine producers in India, like Serum Institute, they call it Corbevax, and we’ll see what Indonesia calls it. And one of the frustrations I’ve had with the Biden administration is, you know, they really have not taken ownership of this issue. You know, they’re willing to donate 200 million doses of Pfizer vaccine this year and 60 million of AstraZeneca. And they’ve done some patent waivers, which maybe in the long-term will have some impact. But, you know, let’s look at the scope of this. You have a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa. 650 million people in Latin America, another half a billion people in the poor, poorest low-income countries of Southeast Asia. That’s, you know, 3 billion, 2-3 billion people. We need 6 billion doses of vaccines. And that’s the problem. Nobody’s stepping up and having this frank accounting and discussion with the American people or people globally saying, hey, we need 6 billion doses of covert vaccine and we need that now.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:15:21] We can’t wait till next year. The Delta variant is accelerating throughout the global south, throughout the southern hemisphere. And here we are. We have this vaccine that’s, you know, we think we can do for $1, $1.50 a dose, the least expensive. It looks really promising. There’s no end to what you can make because it’s a recombinant protein vaccine expressed in yeast. The same technology used to make the Hepatitis B vaccine that’s used and made all over the world. You know, make it, you know, I want the Biden administration to say, you know what, all of our early research was done with NIH funding. I said, you know, take ownership of this and find a big vaccine producer and make 5 billion doses of it and stop with the, you know, piddling donations. Nobody wants to own this thing yet. I just can’t understand it. And, you know, this is a $100 trillion dollar economy. And, you know, we’re sitting there like, you know, around the lunch table bickering about who’s going to pay for the turkey club and who’s going to pay for the salad, because it’s you know, it’s crazy.
Michael Moore [00:16:27] And if anybody from the administration is listening to this podcast, they shouldn’t know that they do not have to pay a trillion dollars or whatever to Texas Children’s Hospital in order to get this vaccine and get it around the world.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:16:42] That’s right. It’s yours. You know, it’s like that old Jerry Rubin book “Steal this book,” you know, just take it, you know.
Michael Moore [00:16:51] Steal this children’s hospital vaccine. Actually, I lied.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:16:54] No, I think there is a $10,000 dollar licensing fee that they like to charge.
Michael Moore [00:16:59] What did you say? And then that’s $10,000 dollars to just steal the vaccine and send it around the world.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:17:07] I’m not sure about that number for long, but it won’t break the bank.
Michael Moore [00:17:11] It won’t break the bank. Right.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:17:12] You know, but then the other hat that I wear is, I have 4 adult kids and my youngest daughter, Rachel has autism and intellectual disabilities. And if we remember, the anti-vaccine movement started claiming that vaccines caused autism and so which is nonsense. So a few years ago I wrote a book with, because I like to write books when I can, and it’s called “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism.” And that made me public enemy number one with the anti-vaccine movement. They call me the OG villain, which I had to look up. It means original gangster villain. Right. And so I’ve been fighting anti-vaccine disinformation for as long as anybody.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:17:53] And, you know, it was really interesting when I started going on the cable news networks last year talking about Covid-19, you know, I watched this thing unfold in the Trump administration when he was saying, you know, the the the deaths are due to other causes and the hospital admissions are due to catch up elective surgeries, and you don’t need masks and hydroxychloroquine, and I’ll say, you know, I’ve seen this before. I know what this is. This is an anti-science disinformation campaign. And I’m the world’s expert. One of the world’s experts. And not because I’m so brilliant, but because I you know, by default, I’ve had to go up against this. So I remember having this conversation with Ann, my wife. I said, you know, scientists, you know, we’re not supposed to talk about Democrats and Republicans and conservatives and liberals. And, you know, she looked at me, she said, you know, you don’t want to be, you know, a year from now realizing all these people have lost their lives from Covid and and not doing all you can to save lives. Y.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:18:55] You have to say it. And I did. And it was a very scary, dark place last year, because at that time, I didn’t have any of the backing of the scientific societies. And I was just out there alone throwing darts at the White House saying this is an anti-science disinformation campaign. And eventually people came around. But it was a very scary place for me to be in. And then, you know, then the anti-vaccine movement, which was focused around autism, sort of adopted this or mutually adopted it. Yeah. You know, under the banner of Health Freedom, this fake banner of health, freedom, medical freedom, you know, the protests against masks and social distancing from the far-right then adopted an anti-vaccine platform. And, you know, that’s what I’m up against now, is dealing with this aggression from the far-right. And again, it’s not fun to talk about because we’re not supposed to talk about Republicans and Democrats. And, you know, it’s not that I’m politicizing it. You know, the bad guys are politicizing it. And I’m trying to link anti-science with this kind of extremism. And again, it’s you see, I mean, if you see the stuff people lob at me on Twitter, I get the emails, you know, that an army of patriots is going to come down. And my first response as well, why need an army of patriots? It’s just me and Ann and Rachel and the cat now, I mean, I would think 1 patriot’s more than enough, maybe 2 patriots. I don’t know.
Michael Moore [00:20:23] Ok, I’m so sorry you have to go through this, because I can tell you, as one who has had to deal with this kind of craziness for almost 30 years now and it’s not pleasant, but you realize after a while that it’s just a lot of noise. And the first rule is never read any of the comments on Twitter.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:20:45] Well, one of the things I do on Twitter, though, is I try to educate people about what the anti-science movement’s about. And so sometimes I’ll retweet and use it as a teachable moment.
Michael Moore [00:20:55] Well, that’s important.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:20:57] But the other piece that’s gotten very sinister also is not just targeting vaccines and science now. It’s actively working to discredit scientists, you know, prominent U.S. scientists. And I mean, you know, you saw Rand Paul going after Tony, right, who I’ve worked with for decades. And they go after me. I mean, I had Laura Ingraham and Governor DeSantis of Florida start attacking me on Fox News. And I’m like, you know, I’m not even from Florida. I’ve got nothing to do with Florida. Well, and this is what I think’s going on is, you know, when you look, you know, why this attack on science and scientists and when you read the history of what Stalin did in the ’30s and and and there’s this wonderful paper, an article from Foreign Affairs in 1941 called “Science and the Totalitarian State.” And this is what they do. This is the modus operandi of authoritarian regimes. You discredit science and scientists. You want to delegitimize them as a way of gaining control or power. And I think something like that’s going on.
Michael Moore [00:22:04] What was this paper called “Science and the Totalitarian State”?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:22:07] “Science in the Totalitarian State” is written by a science writer, very prominent science writer for The New York Times back then in 1941, you know, right on the on the eve of the U.S. joining World War II and talks about, you know, goes through what Stalin did.
Michael Moore [00:22:22] And could you send me a copy of that? Because I would love to post it.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:22:26] And so now I’m kind of writing the update. So I have a paper out in the Public Library of Science plus biology, you know, that really does a deep dive into that. And what this means in the modern context of authoritarian regimes. I read Anne Applebaum’s book, which I really liked about authoritarian regimes. And that also gave me a lot of ideas for the paper.
Michael Moore [00:22:52] Let me just ask you some questions here that are, I think, at the forefront of people’s minds this week. First of all, can you tell us people listening to this very clearly, what is on the horizon Coronavirus wise? What are or what might we be facing here in the upcoming months?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:23:13] Yeah, well, if you’re, I think, you know, this virus is going to pick off a lot of unvaccinated individuals and I think the death rate won’t be as high because we’ve done better with older Americans. But I think a lot of young people, young adults, adolescents, we’re looking at hospitalizations and potentially long Covid. And, you know, again, this is part of the disinformation campaign from the far-right. They say if you’re young and healthy and go to the gym, don’t worry, Covid death rates are really low. But what they don’t tell you is you can still need an ICU admission and neurologic complications from long haul Covid. So I think, you know, if you look at vaccination rates and where I am, you know, in Louisiana, Mississippi, fewer than 15-20 percent of adolescents are vaccinated, 30-40 percent of young adults. So this virus is going to race through that. Right. And plus, you have governors in the red states, you know, filing legislation, executive orders, saying no mask mandates in school. So between Delta being twice as transmissible as any other variant we’ve seen before, no one being vaccinated, no mask. I mean, tell me what you think is going to go well here, right? I mean, so I’m really quite concerned that in the fall, you know, here in the south, a lot of school systems start in August. So I don’t see how that’s going to go.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:24:42] Well, I think in the northeast or back where you are up in Michigan, things will be better because a higher, much higher percentage are vaccinated. And that has the dual benefit. One, if you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to go to the hospital or get very sick, most likely. And if enough people are vaccinated, that slows transmission. So I think, you know, we’ll see this kind of duality of covid of a north south divide. And to some extent, I think that’s probably what we’re looking at.
Michael Moore [00:25:11] You know, I have to tell you, I don’t take any pleasure in thinking, oh, well, it’s hitting the red states, so bon voyage. You know, that’s not how I feel. I want them to live.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:25:24] And I think, well, you know, I’ve been here in Texas almost 11 years. And, you know, the people here in Houston and, you know, the kindest, nicest people you’d ever want to meet. I mean, except when they get on I-45.
Michael Moore [00:25:35] But other than that, I think that one of the first big cities that elected a lesbian as mayor of the city. So if you’re thinking Texas, Texas is a very, very diverse state.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:25:49] I mean, Houston, Sylvester Turner is our mayor, African-American, Harvard Law graduate. Our county judge. And we have the sort of dual system, Lina Hidalgo from Colombia, 30 years old, Stanford grad. I mean, just we’ve got a coolness factor in Houston that’s, you know, so and that’s sort of fun when I’m doing the cable news things, because, you know, the portrayal of Texas is sort of uni-dimensional and all right-wing nuts. But in fact, one of the reasons I came to Texas was because of the science and being in the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical center. And we got a lot of Texas philanthropy when other organizations let us down. You know, the Clayburgh Foundation and Tito’s Vodka came through for us based in Austin and the J-P Foundation in New York and the Dunn Foundation in Texas. You know, those guys came through for us and allowed us to develop that prototype Covid vaccine. So there’s some great stuff going down here.
Michael Moore [00:26:48] When people hear the unvaccinated, they shouldn’t just be thinking, oh, that’s just those yahoos in Arkansas, or that’s the cast of the Deliverance. So it doesn’t affect me. When I hear unvaccinated, I think children, that’s the majority, we’ve got from babies to 12 years old, they are unvaccinated. So to me, it seems they are the most in danger if this variant explodes. Am I right or wrong about that?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:27:12] That I absolutely agree. This is a huge issue. And we’re already seeing pediatric intensive care unit hospitalization start where transmission goes unchecked because no one’s vaccinated. And I think what’s happening is, you know, basically this virus, which is now there’s an early unpublished study out of southern China in Guangdong Province that shows that this virus is replicating at a 1,000x more the level than previous variants. So I think people are just shedding so much virus. It’s everyone, it’s not that kids are being selectively infected. I just think it’s anyone who’s unvaccinated is getting infected and kids are getting swept up in that. And that’s why I was so, you know, strident about trying to get everybody vaccinated this year. And because, you know, there’s vulnerable populations and this is our best hope.
Michael Moore [00:28:07] So you are worried about children going back to school if we have this. If we’re starting in the middle of this fourth surge.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:28:15] I’m less concerned if you’re talking about schools in Vermont and in Massachusetts, where almost all of the adults and adolescents are vaccinated, than I am in Louisiana, Mississippi, where none of the adults and adolescents are vaccinated. I’m a little exaggerating, of course, but you get the idea. So we’re going to see a very different flavor and character of the epidemic, depending on where you are geographically.
Michael Moore [00:28:42] Those of us who are vaccinated, so I got the Pfizer one double dose and all that, what kind of danger am I in as this Delta variant increases?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:28:55] Well, we are seeing breakthrough cases because there’s so much virus replication. But it looks as though if you’re vaccinated, you’re not getting very sick and you’re not going to the hospital and you’re not losing your life. So almost 95 percent of the deaths are in unvaccinated individuals. So it’s based almost all unvaccinated individuals will be hospitalized and get sick. The problem, Michael, is this, what you know, when the vaccines were approved for emergency use at the end of last year, they were originally thought to stop symptomatic illness. And then there were some exciting studies out of Israel and elsewhere that showed, hey, it’s doing something else.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:29:41] It’s actually halting virus, shedding from your nose and mouth and stopping asymptomatic infection, so that the virus neutralizing antibodies, you’re getting into your mucous membranes, your nose and mouth and stopping virus shedding so that we can also so that if you’re vaccinated, you don’t need to be tested anymore, because even if your PCR positive, you’re not going to transmit virus to anybody.
Michael Moore [00:30:07] That’s really meant by virus shedding virus. That means that I’m fully vaccinated, but somehow I get this Covid variant, there’s less of a chance now than there was before of me infecting somebody else.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:30:21] That’s right, more than 90 percent reduction. So that means that if you’re vaccinated, even if you get Covid, even if you contract the infection, you’ll be asymptomatic and you’re not going to pass it to your kids. And that was and that’s the reason why CDC came out with all these guidance. Now, if you’re vaccinated, it’s a get out of jail free card, right. You don’t have to worry about wearing masks indoors or anything else. Now, with Delta, I’m not so sure, because, you know, if that study out of China gets reproduced and people really are having, you know, a thousand times more virus load and you’re vaccinated and it’s reduced, it may not be enough to stop virus shedding. So that’s the piece we may have to alter guidance to get in. And you can see that’s not a 30 second UNICEF commercial. Right. It takes time to explain. That’s what the American people often think, they tolerate complexity pretty well, but the CDC likes to simplify messages. So then the question is, what can you do about it? You know, one possibility is if you do give a third immunization of the mRNA vaccine, little jack up the virus, neutralizing antibodies even more so then you will stop virus shedding. So these are all the kinds of discussions that I think are going on between FDA and CDC and the surgeon general.
Michael Moore [00:31:43] When some people hear that it’s you know, it’s a 90 percent, 90 percent chance that you will not give this to somebody else. Sometimes when you hear that and you say, hmm, that means there’s a 10 percent chance and…
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:31:54] Now it’s going to be more because of the Delta.
Michael Moore [00:31:56] So, yeah, you know, back when I was playing Russian roulette. No, I’m kidding. But if there’s 10 chambers in the gun and they put one bullet in it and you spin it around, who listening to this right now would put that gun to their head? I mean, 9 chambers are empty. 1 has the bullet. It’s still to me, it’s why I still, if I’m inside a place with, you know, people, people I don’t know, I don’t know if they’re vaccinated or not, I wear the mask because I want to reduce it.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:32:27] Right. And now with Delta, you have to more than ever because there’s going to be a lot of virus around. And again, it’s going to be more urgent for you to do. That’s where I live, where nobody’s vaccinated in the south compared to where you are, where many more people are vaccinated. So there’s probably less of a risk.
Michael Moore [00:32:44] I’m in New York right now. And I’ve watched, you know, we really went down from this was a death colony a year ago. And people I have look like almost 5 million. It’s a city of 8 million people and almost 5 million, which I mean, that’s most of the adult population has been vaccinated. I don’t like it, though, when they say that about 70 percent or 80 percent have had at least one dose, well one dose isn’t…don’t say that. They’ve got to get the second dose if they’re on a two dose…Am I wrong to say that to people?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:33:18] Yes, especially for Delta. We have some data now saying a single dose won’t cut it. You need both doses because both doses will give you that really high level of virus neutralizing antibody. You know, these are people to be pitied in some ways because they’re victims. They’re victims of the disinformation and from what I call the triple headed monster, you know, we’ve talked about one so far, which is what is that, you know, the three arms. I have an article I wrote in The Daily Beast last week, you know, that uses the metaphor of the Ghidorah, the triple headed monster responsible for the disinformation and Daily Beast graphics did a great picture, which I love, it looks like a ’70s album cover. But what are the three arms?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:34:09] So the biggest one is, the far-right are not even the far-right anymore. It’s becoming more mainstream across the GOP. It’s you know, if you listen to that CPAC conference or what’s on Fox News or Newsmax, this aggression against vaccines, that’s probably the biggest cause of damage right now why vaccination rates are so low in the deep red states. But there’s 2 other pieces. The other one is the Putin government, the Russian government, which for the last few years has been lobbying this whole program, what’s called weaponized health communication against the United States and using vaccines as a wedge issue. But then the third is, the non-governmental organizations that promote anti-vaccine disinformation and now the Center for Countering Digital Hate. It’s amazing we have to have an organization called the Center for Countering Digital Hate that identifies the top 12 based on their Internet analysis. That’s responsible for about 65 percent of that disinformation. So those are the three heads.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:35:18] And, you know, I think the surgeon general, was one of the first surgeon general’s to call attention to misinformation, because in the past, when I’ve brought this up, I know the stuff coming out of HHS was always Peter, you know, we’re not talking about this right now. It’ll give it oxygen. And that’s really, I mean, it’s got all the oxygen needs, or at least they’re recognizing it. But I think they’re very much focused on the social media companies, especially Facebook and the disinformation dozen as the Center for Countering Digital Hate does. They didn’t want to seem to address the far-right aggression, which I think is dominant right now in Russia. Maybe that was just too scary for them. But we’re going to have to deal with this at some point. Their vehicles are the social media companies, but also Amazon. People are often surprised that, you know, you can do this exercise at home. If you go to Amazon.com, put books up at the top, click right. And you’ll get the scroll down menu at the left. That includes health, fitness and dieting. You click on that, you get the books on vaccinations, all fake anti-vaccine books. So Amazon is the leading promoter, or one of the leading promoters of fake anti-vaccine disinformation. I mean, my books are among the highest ranked pro-vaccine books on Amazon. I think overall, they ranked about 20 or 25 because of all the garbage ahead of it.
Michael Moore [00:36:43] So how do we take on this disinformation? What do you propose? I mean, how do we shut this down?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:36:50] Well, you know, the Center for Countering Digital Hate for the top 12 has proposed deplatforming them off of social media. You know, I think someone’s got to have a conversation with Amazon about taking down this kind of garbage. And then I get accused of, you know, what the anti-vaxxers accused me of book burning. And I say, look, you know, Amazon’s a bookstore, you know, we go into any good bookstore, the proprietor makes decisions about what they put out, what they don’t. It’s a private organization. And then, you know how you deal with Putin and the Russian government and how to deal with the far-right extremism. What I’ve recommended in this Daily Beast piece is to say, look, as health experts or scientists, we don’t know how to deal with this. It’s not our expertise. And we have to stop asking the Department of Health and Human Services to take the lead on that. We need to bring in expertize for people who do things like fighting global terrorism or nuclear proliferation or cyber attacks because it’s reached that level. You know, you know, more Americans are dying of anti-science than they are any of those things right now. The reason 600,000 Americans have lost their lives and are continuing to lose their lives is partly because of the SARS Coronavirus type 2. But it’s also due to defiance, defiance against masks and social distancing and now vaccines and we have to recognize anti-science is a monster and it’s a killer.
Michael Moore [00:39:55] I have a couple of theaters in Michigan, movie theaters, non-profit movie theaters, and I’m going to reopen them soon. And I’ve told people in town that you have to be vaccinated in order to come into this movie house. A movie house has no windows. There’s no such thing as I mean, I’m installing right now. It’s costing a lot of money. A new filtering, not just not really, I shouldn’t call it a filtering system. It’s a fresh air system. I’m bringing in fresh air constantly now and taking it right back out. And it has to go through the super, super heater or in the summer super cooler. So my utility bills are going to go way up. But nonetheless, I’m doing everything I can do to have fresh air in the theater. But I don’t want people in there and I want people coming to the theater knowing the other people sitting there within the theater are vaccinated. I haven’t gotten any pushback yet. I kind of expected it, but it hasn’t happened. But do you think I’m wrong requiring, at least for now, people have to show their vaccination card?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:41:02] You know, I think this is going to be really important. And it’s interesting, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with businesses, especially the general counsel of businesses who want to have more vaccine mandates. What’s holding them back is the fact that they’ve not been formally approved. They’re still released under emergency use and they see that as a problem. I don’t really see the problem, but they seem to see it as a problem. So that seems to be what’s holding them back. And I don’t, you know, the FDA is now talking about January before it’s fully approved. I would have thought they could have moved faster on this since they knew it was coming. So I don’t know exactly what the issue is.
Michael Moore [00:41:41] Am I wrong to require that people be vaccinated to come into my theater. Because you know what, the hamburger joint down the street has a sign that says no shirt, no shoes, no service. And nobody complains about their constitutional rights to eat dinner in front of other people with their shirt off in the bookstore. You mentioned the bookstore. The bookstore down the street doesn’t allow cigarette smoking. Isn’t that strange? Don’t we have a constitutional right to smoke a cigarette in a bookstore?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:42:08] Yeah. You have no argument. No argument from me. It’s just interesting. A lot of well, I think a lot of the big corporations are the ones who are skittish because…
Michael Moore [00:42:17] Why they don’t want to upset the ignorant?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:42:19] Well, I think it’s well, also, I think, you know, what I’m hearing from a few of the big organizations is they have a lot of unfilled positions right now, as is, and so if they have to lay off a substantial segment of the workforce, you know, whether it’s five percent or 10 percent, they’re a little worried about how they actually run the business, which is kind of interesting. So I didn’t realize that there’s so many open jobs right now. So that and I don’t know what’s going on there.
Michael Moore [00:42:48] Well, yeah, well, there are a lot of them that work in hospitals that are not vaccinated.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:42:52] It’s just that there are apparently practicalities that are making businesses skittish about doing it.
Michael Moore [00:42:58] Maybe it’s because we’re a non-profit, we’re not in the business of making money.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:43:02] But look, if I’m going into, you know, my special needs daughter likes to go to movie theaters and we’re telling her no, because there’s too much Covid. But we’re saying there’s still a lot of Covid transmission, but if we knew that theater where everybody was vaccinated, yeah, we’d feel a lot better about it.
Michael Moore [00:43:18] If Michael Moore could guarantee you, because I have made sure that we’ve checked their cards. We know they’re real. They’re not fake. People in that theater are vaccinated. And I’m going to continue to stick with social distancing. We have 600 seats in our theater. It’s no problem whatsoever to have people sit in their own clusters with their family or whatever and be far enough away from other people. Hopefully not come down with Covid. I want to do these things. I want people to know that they can come and see a movie. And generally, I mean, I guess there’s no guarantees in life, but as they say nonetheless, I will do my best to reduce your risk by making sure that the people in there are and are not going to infect you and you are not going to infect them.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:44:06] It’s great. I think it’s terrific. But, you know, now, you know, here in this part of the country, boy, it’s really tough now to do this. Well, we’ve got executive orders. If you’re a public organization, you can’t enforce the vaccine mandates.
Michael Moore [00:44:24] It almost makes you want to move to Texas and open a theater. Yeah. So what do you say to parents then? It’s ok. Kids go back to school in September. Should they wear a mask inside, as Dr. Fauci says they should? The World Health Organization says yes, the CDC says no.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:44:44] What I say, if they’re over the age of 12 yet, if they’re over the age of 12, make sure they’re vaccinated and make certain they have a mask, if they’re over the age of 2. And, you know, special needs that prevent them from wearing a mask and let’s hope for the best, I think that’s about all we can, because a lot of school districts now are not going to offer remote learning. So when I look, I understand the importance of, I mean, as I say, I’m a parent of 4 adult kids now, when the kids were little and no one understood the importance of in-person classes more than I did or my wife Ann. But, um, so I think that’s great that we’re doing that. And I just wish we had done a better job vaccinating people across the south to do this more safely.
Michael Moore [00:45:28] What can we do? Seriously, what can we do to convince people to? Come on, folks, come on, let’s do this. You must have put a lot of thought into this that there’s got to be a way to bring most good people along, even though we may disagree on some things, we can agree on this. This is, I don’t know, which maybe the head of the CDC the other day said we’re in a phase now where this is preventable. This is preventable. Biden has said this, you know, just all you gotta’ do.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:45:59] Yeah, pretty much. Pretty much nobody has to be there except for kids under the age of 12 and pretty much everybody who’s hospitalized or in an ICU from Covid is there by choice because they chose not to get vaccinated. It’s horrible to say, but that is the reality. So trying to reach people and explain to them why, even if you’re young and healthy and fit, it’s not a substitute for virus neutralizing antibodies from vaccination. And that the key is to, you know, the people on the right. And again, it’s not fun for me to talk about have somehow sent the message that your allegiance to the political right is somehow linked to not being vaccinated. And we’ve got to break that. I mean, you know, as I point out, the GOP was not historically anti-science. And Lincoln started the National Academy of Sciences. Eisenhower started NASA. George W. Bush launched part of the president’s emergency plan for AIDS Relief. I mean, there’s nothing intrinsically anti-science about the Republican Party. I don’t know where this comes from. It’s just bizarre. And it’s an aberration. And explaining that to people, you know, usually if I have enough time with someone, you can eventually walk ’em back. But it’s labor intensive. And I don’t know how you do that times tens of millions of people. I mean, I think the estimates are there are still 50 million Americans, 50 who could be vaccinated, but are not. And that’s you know, that’s the critical piece to all of this.
Michael Moore [00:47:45] So why is Fox, the anchors on Fox this week, change their tune and are now telling people to get vaccinated?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:47:51] You know, I think the other misplaced piece of this is everyone points fingers at 2 of the nighttime anchors. Laura Ingraham goes after me and Tucker Carlson. I said, look, this is not Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingram. This is an executive decision, right at the leadership of Fox News. I say, well, you know, you talk about Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, like they’re after work. They’re, you know, debating 18th century enlightenment philosophy. I mean, you know, you’ve got to stop treating them like they’re the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. This is an executive decision. They’re doing what they’re told from the leadership. And it’s not just FOX, that’s News Corp Holdings, which is also owned by the Murdoch’s that are getting a lot of anti-vaccine disinformation. If you look at the Wall Street Journal opinion section, it’s a horror show. So, you know, that’s causing a lot of damage. So maybe somebody in the Biden administration got to the leadership of Fox News or News Corp.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:48:54] You know, that’s one possibility. And then, you know, reining in those members of Congress, who, you know, the craziness from the CPAC conference, I mean, that was so damaging, you know, saying that, you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene saying vaccines are nothing more than a political instrument of control. I mean, my God, I mean, this is the kind of stuff they’re putting out there and people believe it. So these people have a lot of influence. And I think that we have to figure out a way to halt.
Michael Moore [00:49:24] Well, any last words to people who are listening to this?
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:49:28] Well, the key is to, you know, if you’re vaccinated, you’re going to be chances are you’re going to be fine. And if you’re and everyone in your family’s vaccinated and your level of community transmission is not high, you know, all of those are good things. But, you know, trying to get the rest of the country on the same page in terms of vaccination levels, we can still vaccinate our way out of this epidemic in the United States. And we can vaccinate our way out of this pandemic, if we could scale up and get everybody vaccinated and for me, it’s, you know, the 2 forces that I’m fighting is the the 3 headed monster that’s pushing hard on disinformation, that’s hurting the country and the world now in this lack of situational awareness of why we need to vaccinate the entire world and why this won’t go well if we don’t vaccinate the whole planet.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:50:31] And you have to stop at these 2023 timelines. We need to do this now. And we can. Right? I mean, and, you know, then I get and I’ve been pushing on the Biden administration to…Because why does the U.S. have to lead? And the answer is because, you know, I’m still an old fashioned patriot, which is, you know, when the world needs to get things done, if the U.S. doesn’t lead it, it tends not to get done. And that’s how we defeated fascism in World War II. It’s how we won the Cold War. It’s how we, you know, made a big dent in HIV AIDS, because there was American American leadership. And this is what we have to do.
Michael Moore [00:51:14] Well, thank you for what you do, Dr. Peter Hotez, in terms of helping to invent a new and affordable vaccine for people in the third world. And for all the work you do there, Texas Children’s Hospital, for the books that you’ve written and for standing up to the anti-vaxxers, people who otherwise would be really good people and are good people. But somewhere they went off the wagon somewhere and look, I understand, you should be skeptical, always skeptical of what a pharmaceutical company is telling you or what the government’s telling you or whatever. That’s a good thing.
Michael Moore [00:51:59] But then you do your research and you do your reading and you assess it. And then hopefully you come down on the side of science and not see science in this case as the enemy. So I encourage everyone who’s listening. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, please do so. As soon as the kids under 12 can get vaccinated, let’s get them vaccinated. And it doesn’t hurt to wear a mask. If you can bear doing that, you’re only making it easier on yourself and others. So I applaud you for continuing to do that. And thank you, Dr. Hotez, for everything that you’ve done and for being a truth teller.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:52:43] Well, thank you, Michael. You know, you’ve been all along one of my inspirations for exactly that. And, you know, your work is giving me a lot of courage to do these kinds of things. So I’m very grateful to you and your decade long commitment.
Michael Moore [00:52:59] Wow. That’s very kind of you to say. Don’t worry about the so-called patriot groups. You know, they haven’t found me after 30 years. You know, you’re going to be ok.
Dr. Peter Hotez [00:53:10] Well, thank you, Michael. Again, I’m deeply appreciative for all your inspiration and your help. I am really grateful.
Michael Moore [00:53:17] Thank you so much. And thank you, all of you. Thank you for tuning in to Rumble today and this very important topic that is still with us and will be with us until we all come together and do what needs to be done. Many thanks. Thanks to our executive producer, Basel Hamdan. Our sound engineer, Nick Kwas and to everybody else who helps me with this podcast. It’s all greatly, greatly appreciated. And we’ll be back next week with Rumble with Michael Moore. I’m Michael Moore and have a good week.