Background Briefing: December 28, 2020

A Look Back at the Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020



The Origins of the Covid-19 Virus

Today we continue to look back on the stories that dominated the headlines in this tumultuous year of 2020 which is fast coming to a close. And no story was more in the headlines than the Covid pandemic and we begin with a broadcast from May 5 during the first wave of Covid infections and deaths when we examined the origins of the Covid-19 virus behind the pandemic which began in China and had spread around the world. Rob Wallace, an evolutionary epidemiologist who has consulted with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, joined us to discuss his article at his Patreon Page, “Midvinter-19: On the Origins of SARS-CoV-2“. While this outbreak was not caused by a lab accident and instead came as a result of a zoonotic leap from a recombinant of a bat and a Malaysian pangolin into humans, we explored how there is plenty of blame to go around.


The Pandemic as the Fourth Turning Point After 9/11, the 2008 Crash and Climate Change

Then we go to an interview from May 28 when we looked into how the last 3 major crises 9/11 and the lost wars in the Middle East, the financial crash of 2008 and bailouts, and the climate crisis are turning points in American history, now joined by a fourth, the pandemic. Greg Grandin, a Professor of History at Yale University who won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for his new book The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, joined us. We discussed how Trump’s border wall and his claim he closed the border with China to stop a virus which has killed over 100,000 Americans so far, is a way to wall off capitalism’s limits and its pain, without having to challenge it’s terms, while his response to the pandemic, exposes the anti-government ideology of Republicans as delusional.


We Need Dr. Fauci More Than Ever as Trump Embraces Quackery

Then finally we go to an interview from October 18 when we looked into warnings from Dr. Fauci that letting the coronavirus spread to achieve herd immunity “quite frankly… is nonsense, and anybody who knows anything about epidemiology will tell you that that is nonsense and very dangerous.”  Nevertheless as the nation enters a third spike with 17 states experiencing sharp increases and 41 states overall seeing infections rising, Trump is now listening to an unqualified radiologist who is prepared to sentence millions of Americans to death to have his quackery proven wrong. One of the world’s leading authorities on coronaviruses, Dr. Ian Lipkin, the Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University whose team has discovered or characterized more than 500 infectious agents such as SARS, MERS and Covid, joined us. We discussed the call for Trump’s top scientists like Fauci, Birx and Redfield to resign which Dr. Lipkin considered foolish because we will need Fauci when a safe and effective vaccine is available to convince a skeptical public to take it, given the irresponsible claims Trump makes regularly and the number of conspiracy-minded anti-vaxxers we have in the country.