WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2022
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Childhood Vaccine Delay & Political Divisiveness: ‘We Are at War With a Common Enemy’, Not the Time to Fight With Each Other
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter welcome Dr. Anthony Fauci back to the show, two years after his first appearance discussing the novel coronavirus spreading around the world. The Chief Medical Advisor to the Biden White House and long-time Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH expressed concern over the ongoing political divisiveness impacting our ability to contain COVID outbreaks leading to almost 1 million deaths in this country. He says FDA approval of the mRNA vaccine for young children will likely come on the heels of better data on efficacy with a third dose. He still marvels at the dramatic scientific achievement of the swift development and deployment of an effective vaccine against a challenging new pathogen, which he said would not have happened without decades of committing our resources to scientific research.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2022
Biden COVID Equity Advisor Faces Dilemma as His Employer Drops Vaccine Mandate
Dr. Cameron Webb, White House Senior Policy Adviser for COVID-19 Equity, is navigating a tricky situation — as he advocates for vaccines, the university where he works just dropped its student vaccine mandate. Webb tells Conversations on Health Care hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter that he realizes the University of Virginia has some new dynamics to navigate. “There’s this rush to roll back a lot of the strategies that have gotten us to a point where we’re seeing less death,” he says. “This pandemic has been politicized to a point that it’s indistinguishable from the rest of our political rhetoric…rhetoric often meant to motivate a voter base.” Webb also discusses the administration’s efforts to address COVID equity issues, including the need to collect better data about race and ethnicity vaccination rates.
MONDAY, JANUARY 31, 2022
House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro: More Money for Hospitals, Vaccines Forthcoming?
This week hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, on her expectations for building consensus on revised Build Back Better legislation, as well as the possibility for more relief money for hospitals and other entities in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. She says the expanded Child Tax Credit has lifted millions of American children out of poverty, significantly easing economic pressures on working families, and that it should be restored. Representative DeLauro also discusses the President’s infrastructure law, which she says will have a dramatic impact on the nation’s aging transportation and clean water delivery systems, as well as create new jobs.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2022
US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Politics, Pandemic Fatigue and Keeping Kids Safe in School
This week hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter welcome US Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona, who discusses the Biden administration’s efforts to contain the pandemic’s impact while keeping students and teachers safe in school. He laments the influence of politics on the proven public health practices to prevent spread of the disease which includes mask wearing and widespread vaccinations. He says this pandemic has revealed the importance of providing medical and behavioral care in school-based health clinics. He also applauds First Lady Jill Biden’s thoughtful advice on education policy as a veteran of the education system.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2022
Dr. Michael Osterholm says COVID's Not Done with Us: Talks Omicron Surge, Future Variants and Building Better Vaccines
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter welcome renowned epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, who has served 5 presidential administrations in preparing for pandemics and bio-terror threats. Dr. Osterholm says the highly infectious omicron variant will continue to threaten hospital systems, schools and supply chains, warning the threat of future variants that may evade immunity is still a very real concern. He predicts that a combination of improved vaccines and new therapeutics will render COVID more manageable in the future, but that we will have to learn to 'live with it'.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 2022
A Candid Conversation with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Politics of the Office, Masking Guidelines, COVID Testing and Pandemic Frustration
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter welcome CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, addressing confusion and frustration around lack of rapid COVID tests and need for more N95 masks for the public. She talks about the shifting plan of action from the Biden Administration in response to the dramatic surge in omicron-driven COVID cases, and the scaled up efforts to make rapid tests and high quality masks available to all Americans.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2022
New Pandemic Strategy Needed: Dr. Zeke Emanuel & Former Biden COVID Team Members Calling For New Approach
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Vice Provost at the University of Pennsylvania and former member of the Biden administration’s COVID Transition Team. He and other former Biden advisors have called for a dramatic new approach to addressing COVID-19 saying we will not eradicate the virus, so we need new strategies to live with it. They’re calling for a radical re-tooling of our public health data system to capture real-time data, and for a significant investment in community health workers to address public health challenges on the ground.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 5, 2022
Pediatrician Dr. Peter Hotez Creates New Vaccine; Gives Advice for Families With Young Children Staying Safe During Surge
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, and co-creator of a new, low-cost vaccine for COVID-19. Dr. Hotez discusses plans for Corbevax, a recombinant protein vaccine shown to be highly protective against COVID-19, which has just been given Emergency Use Authorization by the Indian government. Dr. Hotez’s plan is to make the formula available to poor and developing countries around the world, without any expectation of payment, to accelerate the pace of global vaccinations and bring the pandemic to an end. He also offers important advice to families with children navigating the omicron surge while heading back to school.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2021
What a Year! A Look Back At COVID’s Grip on 2021
This week, Mark and Margaret take a look back at COVID’s hold on 2021, the early promise of vaccines, the relentless march of mutations and the vicious rise of new variants leading to pandemic surges around the world. They revisit conversations with memorable guests from famed virologists and epidemiologists like Paul Offit and Michael Osterholm, to President Biden’s COVID team leaders Rochelle Walensky, Anthony Fauci and Rachel Levine. They revisited guests focused on other health news: Bill McKibben on climate change, and Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson on the existential threat to women’s reproductive rights in the U.S. It was also a year to celebrate the dramatic discovery underway in the field of science, with Eric Topol, William Haseltine and NIH Director Francis Collins.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2021
Omicron Could Be as Deadly as Delta, Boosters’ Short Protection &‘Dangerous’ Oral COVID Pill from Merck: A Talk With William Haseltine
This week hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with renowned virus expert Dr. William Haseltine who has ‘grave concerns’ about Merck’s oral COVID drug Malnupiravir, which recently won narrow approval from the FDA advisory panel. He says the drug unleashes ‘dangerous’ mutations that could evolve the virus beyond control. He’s also urging extreme caution as the highly infectious omicron variant is sweeping across the US, saying it could be as deadly as the delta variant and that boosters may offer only limited protection of 3 months. Dr Haseltine, who developed the Anthrax vaccine and is President of ACCESS Health International, says public health protocols of masking, rapid testing and social distancing should be put back in place during this next surge.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2021
Robert Gallo, Scientist Who Co-Discovered HIV Offers Guidance to Patients as Omicron Increases
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter welcome famed AIDS Researcher Dr. Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of the HIV virus, which led to the first tests and treatments for AIDS. He is Director of the Institute for Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Co-founder of the Global Virus Network, a consortium of research centers of excellence in 66 countries around the world, a nongovernmental agency collaborating on emerging virus research. Dr. Gallo says their network of scientists knew early in the COVID-19 pandemic that the mRNA vaccines would be effective, but for a limited time, and that boosters will be required until the global outbreak is brought under control. He says it’s too soon to predict the full impact of the omicron variant, but that it is likely to overwhelm many countries.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2021
“Not the Doomsday Variant”: Dr. Eric Topol’s Concerns Around Omicron and America’s Low Fully Vaccinated Rate
This week hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter welcome Dr. Eric Topol, Director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, for his perspective on the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. He says early data shows that it is highly transmissible, but apparently not more deadly. His greater concern is around the current Delta surge leading to more infections, low vaccination rates in developing countries leading to more variants, and the “abysmal” vaccination performance in the U.S. He says mRNA vaccines should be considered a 3-dose protocol, and that rapid testing and virus sequencing should be more broadly deployed to stop the spread of the virus.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2021
Health News This Week: Omicron Makes Gains Around the World as U.S. Supreme Court Justices Hear Mississippi Abortion Case
ts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter examine the latest details about the omicron COVID variant, including the important role community health centers continue to play in the pandemic. In addition, we revisit their recent conversation with Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson on the Supreme Court hearing on the Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks, posing the greatest threat to Roe v. Wade in half a century. She also talks about systematic efforts in many states limiting women's access to abortion, and examines the previous administration’s Title X abortion ‘gag’ rule, which seriously impeded access to reproductive health services, creating particular hardship for vulnerable women. She expects the conservative-leaning high court will ultimately rule to undermine Roe.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2021
UN Climate Summit Fell Short, But Gary Cohen Says President Biden’s Build Back Better Act Holds Great Promise
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Gary Cohen, Founder of Health Care Without Harm, an award-winning global non-profit seeking to create an environmentally-responsible health system. Winner of the MacArthur Foundation’s ‘Genius Grant’ for his work reducing the health industry's pollution footprint, he says the COP26 UN Climate summit in Glasgow didn’t go far enough to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which means a billion people will be exposed to dangerous heat stress. Mr. Cohen says the recently-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill makes some progress addressing climate change, but that the President’s Build Back Better Act could have a dramatic impact. He says de-carbonizing the nation's health industry will build healthier communities and address health inequity.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2021
Rocketing with Captain Kirk To A New Frontier: Astronaut Glen de Vries on New Era of Innovation In Space Travel and Health Care
Update (11/12/2021): We are devastated to learn of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. He was a thoughtful, brilliant guest whose innovative ideas we were lucky enough to hear firsthand on the show. Our deepest condolences to his family. He will be missed.
This week hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Glen de Vries, Vice Chair for Health and Life Sciences at Dassault Systèmes and Founder and former CEO of Medidata, the first cloud based system supporting global clinical trials research. An astronaut aboard Jeff Bezos’ recent Blue Origin rocket flight with William Shatner of Star Trek fame, de Vries points to the scientific advances from the nation’s space program fueling the technologies that now support telehealth and precision medicine. Also author of The Patient Equation, he predicts a dramatic period of exponential growth in scientific and biologic discovery post-pandemic.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2021
Lies and Misinformation Led to Hundreds of Thousands of US Deaths: Yale’s Dr. Nicholas Christakis on Enduring Impact of COVID-19
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Nicholas Christakis, Director of Yale’s Human Nature Lab and expert on the influence of social networks on health and behavior. In his recent book, Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live, he examines the patterns of pandemics throughout human history and says the "appalling” US response, driven by denial from the White House and amplified by misinformation on social media channels, led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. He predicts the pandemic will wind down in 2022, and that a period of innovation and improvements to health care delivery will follow, fueled by lessons learned from this crisis.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2021
“Roe Hanging On By A Thread”: Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson on Imminent Threat To Reproductive Rights
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Planned Parenthood Federation of America CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, on upcoming Supreme Court hearing on S.B.8., the Texas law banning abortion after 6 weeks. She discusses the record number of restrictive abortion laws across the country causing harm to patients and clinicians committed to providing family planning services, and the former administration’s Title X abortion ‘gag’ rule, which greatly hampered access to legally-guaranteed ‘right to choose’. She expects Roe-v-Wade will likely be permanently compromised with the current conservative configuration on the nation’s High Court.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2021
Mandates ‘Turbocharging’ Vaccination Rates: US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Vaccine Requirements, Boosters and Vaccinating Kids
This week hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter welcome “the Nation’s Doctor,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, Co-chair of President Biden’s White House COVID Task Force. Dr. Murthy explains the FDA’s latest approval for mixing vaccine brands for booster shots. He also addresses White House plans to roll out COVID vaccine support for the nation’s 5-11-year-olds pending FDA approval, and how vaccine requirements are ‘turbocharging’ vaccination rates. Dr. Murthy examines the growing crisis of unmet mental health needs, addiction, and overdose in this country, exacerbated by the pandemic. He also discusses an initiative he’s creating to address burnout in the health care profession.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2021
“Safety Comes First”: FDA Vaccine Advisory Panel’s Dr. Ofer Levy on Rigorous Process Around Vaccine Approval For Kids
This week we speak with Dr. Ofer Levy, Director of the Precision Vaccines Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and member of the FDA COVID Vaccine Advisory Panel. He talks about the recent decision to reject boosters for all recipients 16 and older, saying they didn’t have enough data for younger populations to make that recommendation. He says the review process for emergency authorization for young children aged 5-to-11 will be thorough, rigorous and transparent to the public. His team is also currently working on developing a COVID vaccine, as well as other vaccines that could be deployed for cancer and even opioid use disorder and fentanyl overdose.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2021
Why COVID Crushed Us: Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb Details America’s Botched Pandemic Response
This week, hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb whose new book outlines America’s epic failure in our response to the pandemic, leading to more than 700,000 deaths. “Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic” examines the inherent flaws at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public agencies that left us vulnerable to the raging pandemic. Dr. Gottlieb says the CDC and other agencies should be re-tooled to conduct more agile global disease surveillance, and that emerging therapeutics like Merck’s new oral COVID drug will be a game changer for treatment moving forward.