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News on global vaccinations: Rockefeller Foundation financing plan; scientists decry anti-vax power

Tectonic global socio-political forces are now in tension on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Rockefeller Foundation has just released, “a new roadmap for financing the end of the Covid-19 pandemic by the end of 2022”. (And, not incidentally, the plan “kick- starting a just and sustainable global recovery.”]

However …

This week, leading vaccine scientists were described as lamenting “the political power of the anti-vaccine camp”

From the Rockefeller Foundation news release,

“The Rockefeller Foundation Releases New Financing Roadmap to End Pandemic by End of 2022 “

“An Action Plan for Financing Global Vaccinations and Sustainable Growth issues a call to action to leverage $44 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs) through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to achieve a 70% vaccination rate in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by the end of 2022. These special drawing rights would be part of a broader issuance of $650 billion in SDRs to jump-start a more inclusive, sustainable recovery in LMICs at no additional cost to wealthy nations, which have spent heavily on their own recoveries. … The roadmap also cites the need for a re-allocation of no less than $100 billion in wealthy countries’ SDRs to further support pandemic response and recovery in LMICs with relatively now cost to donors…

“Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation: ‘Leveraging $44 billion in special drawing rights through the IMF can fund the vaccination of up to 70% of developing countries’ populations and stop the pandemic everywhere for all of us.’…

650 billion to kick-start a sustainable and just global recovery.

“The IMF projects that the pandemic will strip $11 trillion of global economic output by the end of this year.”

In a RF accompanying summary:

“In the first installment of this plan, we focus on Goal 1, and on the steps needed to mobilize funding to contain and suppress the virus … In future iterations of this series, we will dive deeper into the roles of MDBs [multilateral development banks ] and private sector engagement for achieving success ahead of the G20 Summit and the COP26 towards the end of 2021.

In stark contrast:

“The W.H.O. has identified ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the world’s most urgent health issues.”

That is the money quote in Dr. Jerome Groopman’s startling article in the current issue of The New Yorker. “The Politics of Stopping Pandemics”  

“Even before the COVID-19 crisis, global instability had caused a worrying rise in epidemics. Medical science alone won’t be able to turn the tide.”

Dr. Groopman, holds the Dina and Raphael Recanati Chair of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine . His article is mainly a book review of “Preventing the Next Pandemic” by Peter Hotez, the co- director of the Texas Children’s Hospital.

Key excerpts:

“Most of Hotez’s infection-boosting factors have clear physical manifestations. The exception, ‘anti-science and nationalism’ is in many ways the most exasperating. How can it be that we are threatened not only by insects and filth and the frailties of our own bodies, but also by something as intangible as our beliefs? …

“Hotez observes that there are some five hundred Web sites spreading anti-vaccine information [ not just on Covid-19 vaccines] whose assertions are further disseminated on social media and e-commerce platforms.. Hotez goes on to survey the political power of the anti-vaccine camp. In the United States and Europe, anti-vaxxers have joined forces with populist and libertarian movements, and American groups aligned with the Tea Party invoke “medical freedom”, “health freedom” or “choice” to justify withholding vaccines from children. Anti-vaxxer political-action committees lobby state legislatures to allow parents to opt out of school vaccination requirements. ..

“In December, Facebook at last banned misinformation about the Covid vaccines – a rule that was expanded, in February, to cover vaccines of any kind … Nonetheless, anti-vaccine accounts on social media continue to flourish, having gained more than 10 million new followers since 2019.”

With Covid-19 cases – and vaccinations – now climbing globally and in the U.S. , a March poll of Americans found that some 30% did not intend get vaccinated.

“Hotez admits there is no easy way to put ‘the anti-vaccine genie back in the bottle’, but feels that scientists must ‘fight back through public engagement'” or, as Hotez wrote earlier: “… improving the human condition through ‘science, science diplomacy and public engagement.'”