COLLEGE STATION, TX – Two scientists at Texas A&M University have called for a bipartisan inquiry into the country’s handling of the initial COVID-19 outbreak response.
As of June 23, Texas’ Department of State Health Services has reported 114,881 total cases as the U.S. death toll surpasses 120,000 people.
Peter Hotez, a Hagler Institute scholar at Texas A&M and a vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston agreed with Texas A&M’s Gerald Parker, the director of the Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program, for the need for a bipartisan inquiry into the country’s response of the outbreak.
Particularly concerning, Hotez said, in the country’s response was that transmission was allowed to go on for weeks without a major public health response.
“What hurt Wuhan was what hurt New York City, which is the virus transmission went on for six weeks before there was any public health intervention,” Hotez said in a statement.
Hotez said, in an interview with Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, that he is worried that anti-science-nationalism is creating global instability.
“The virus doesn’t really care if you are Chinese or British or American or even Texan,” Hotez said. “The only way we’re going to solve this is if countries cooperate to make vaccines and work together to scale up vaccines.”
The duo remarked that the investigation needs to take place after the immediate, ongoing crisis has waned, they said it should be modeled after the 9/11 Commission that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Parker said, in a statement, that the country’s leadership has failed to invest in preventative measures between outbreaks of infectious diseases.
“I am optimistic that we may break through this boom-and-bust cycle and finally take pandemic preparedness seriously,” Parker said. “We must prevent this from happening again, this is not going to be our last pandemic.”
The discussion between Parker, Hotez and Sharp will air at 7 p.m., June 25 on KAMU-TV in College Station and on other Texas public television affiliates as part of the 12th and final episode of the series, “COVID-19: The Texas A&M University System Responds.” The episode will also air on the System’s YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/mIHRAKOy6bg.