The American public is being misled about the coronavirus vaccines, and it needs to stop now.
That’s what Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Institute, tells co-host Molly Jong-Fast on the sobering latest episode of The New Abnormal. Fully vaccinated folks are walking around thinking they’re 95 percent protected from the virus, but with the Delta variant raging across the country, that number is actually more like 50 percent, Topol says. (Disclaimer: Recent studies from Mayo Clinic and The New England Journal of Medicine have actually shown that in most cases the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines against the Delta variant is higher than 50% with full dosages.)
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“The main thing is that this is so darn infectious,” he says of Delta, “that the vaccines are not holding up well. I mean, sure. They protect 50 percent or higher, but that’s nothing like what we had before.”
Americans need to be informed—and we urgently need masking, distancing, and even booster shots, which Topol didn’t initially support but now says is where we’re headed. Even the fully vaccinated need to stop getting together unmasked indoors until the Delta wave is over, and the U.S. is falling severely short in tracking breakthrough infections and hospitalizations, he says.
“People don’t want to talk about boosters because they worry that anti-vaxxers will seize onto it,” Molly says. “But the problem is anti-vaxxers are so insane, they’ll seize onto it anyway, and we need to protect people.”
Next on the show, The Daily Beast’s contributing editor Spencer Ackerman joins co-host Jesse Cannon to talk about his amazing new book, Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump.
All the explanations for Donald Trump becoming president “seem to just sort of gloss over the fact that for the past 20 years, this country has been continuously at war,” Ackerman, who also publishes the Substack Forever Wars, tells Jesse. That enemy was never precisely defined, though it ultimately was radical Islam or even Islam itself—“which opened the door for a really broad series of authoritarian possibilities.”
From Timothy McVeigh to birtherism, Ackerman breaks down the differences in treatment of terrorists and how Islamophobia took root after 9/11. He also weighs in on President Joe Biden’s pullout—or is it just pullback?—from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s victory.
Finally, Jesse gifts Molly a very special early birthday present—a personal message from a certain former mayor and cigar fan.