Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), former Biden administration senior advisor and former Obama Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, and family physician and public health expert Dr. Jeff Huebner joined Defend The Science for a virtual press conference to counter the COVID-19 disinformation that is endangering millions of Americans and discuss the efforts of the Biden administration to put an end to the pandemic.
With the highly-contagious Delta variant on the rise, unvaccinated people of all ages are becoming seriously ill and dying from the virus as many Republican leaders are actively undermining vaccination efforts and spreading dangerous conspiracy theories. Today’s event follows Tuesday’s hearing by the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), where Republican Senators Rand Paul and Roger Marshall attacked public health experts and repeated conspiracy theories to cover for the Trump Administration’s disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the Delta variant surges, getting vaccinated could mean life or death for many Americans. That’s why we must stop the dangerous disinformation and attacks on our scientists – including Dr. Fauci – that are ultimately threatening Americans’ lives, undermining our public health experts, and inhibiting our nation’s recovery from the pandemic. We’ve got to continue to call out wild accusations and conspiracy theories when we see them and work overtime to deliver the facts to the American people,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
“There’s never been a greater time for all of us to pull together. This is exactly what the President is asking the country to do and exactly what he’s trying to do,” said Andy Slavitt, former CMS Administrator and former COVID-19 senior advisor under the Biden administration. “We have a tool that can stop it, and that should give us great comfort. So the people that are getting sick, going to the hospital, and dying in 2021, this is almost entirely preventable.”
“We are in a very, very worrisome phase right now. We have obviously made important strides against this virus, but unfortunately our efforts have slowed and our rollout of vaccines is meeting tremendous amounts of resistance that is setting us back farther than we need to be,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, DrPH, SM, at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “The vast majority of anti-vaccination content on the internet stems from 12 personalities who are making a tremendous amount of money off of spreading lies — it’s a more than a $36 million industry. They are making money, but people are dying.”
“We’re at a point in this pandemic, due to the miraculous vaccines that we have, where nearly every death is preventable,” said Dr. Jeff Huebner, MD, a family medicine physician in Madison, WI. “More people will die tragically and we’re not going to be able to get back to our jobs and our schools with the same confidence we would if people were vaccinated.”
“As COVID-19 cases spike across the country, hospitals are once again becoming overwhelmed and Americans are needlessly dying of a now preventable disease,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Republicans should be doing everything in their power to get shots in arms and put an end to this crisis, but instead they are spreading disinformation and fueling vaccine hesitancy. We must reverse course, defend the science and ensure that Americans get vaccinated before it’s too late.”