Dr. Peter Hotez: Covid’s Origins, Outlook & Lessons for the Next Pandemic
Reception: 6:00-7:00pm Program: 7:00-8:00pm
About the Event:
Since January 2020, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Dr. Peter Hotez has been a powerful and informative source for millions of Americans providing direct, factual and timely information on the U.S. and global impacts of Covid-19.
As a world-renowned vaccine researcher, dean of the only school of tropical medicine in the U.S. and a former U.S. Science Envoy, Dr. Hotez has coordinated for years with the senior leadership of the CDC and the NIH in the U.S., and globally with the WHO and UNICEF.
In response to the SARS epidemic in 2002 and the MERS epidemic in 2012, Dr. Hotez and his team at Baylor College of Medicine began developing coronavirus vaccines a decade ago. Their ongoing research enabled them to create Corbevax – a low-cost and patent-free Covid vaccine to combat the virus in the developing world. The very low price of only $1.90 per dose has allowed for affordable production and distribution, with tens of millions of doses being given in India.
To determine the actual origins of Covid-19 and help prevent the next coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Hotez has publicly stated the need for impartial scientists to have full and unhindered access to: the data and researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China; blood samples from the first patients known to have contracted the virus in 2019; and the ability to study local bat populations and other animals that could have been intermediary hosts.
Even though two of the three major global epidemics of this century arose in China, this complete and necessary openness is unlikely to be granted by the Chinese government. Global collaboration and the work of the WHO will be vital to address the next pandemic. But some experts question the impartiality of the WHO to investigate member nations which provide significant parts of its funding – such as China, which contributes about 12% of its annual budget.
To prepare for when, not if, the next pandemic emerges, Dr. Hotez will review the failings within the U.S. and around the world, and highlight the actions and policies that should be pursued now to reduce the destruction caused by future global outbreaks.
Peter J. Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. was nominated this year for the Nobel Peace Prize along with his colleague for ‘their work to develop and distribute a low-cost COVID-19 vaccine to people of the world without patent limitation’; and he was awarded the Scientific Achievement Award, one of the highest honors granted by the American Medical Association.
Dr. Hotez is Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is also the Co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development. Additionally, he is University Professor at Baylor University, Fellow in Disease and Poverty at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University.
Dr. Hotez is an internationally-recognized physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. He leads a team and product development partnership for developing new vaccines for hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and SARS/MERS/SARS-2 coronavirus, diseases affecting hundreds of millions of children and adults worldwide, while championing access to vaccines globally and in the United States.
In 2021, Dr. Hotez led efforts at the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development to develop a low-cost recombinant protein COVID vaccine, resulting in emergency use authorization in India. From 2014-16, he served in the Obama Administration as U.S. Science Envoy, focusing on vaccine diplomacy initiatives between the government of the U.S. Government and nations in the Middle East and North Africa; and he is called upon frequently to testify before the U.S. Congress. Dr. Hotez was also appointed and served on infectious disease task forces for Texas Governors Abbott and Perry. In 2006, he co-founded the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to provide access to essential medicines for hundreds of millions of people.
Most recently as both a vaccine scientist and autism parent, Dr. Hotez has led national efforts to defend vaccines and to serve as an ardent champion of vaccines going up against a growing national “antivax” movement. He appears frequently on television (including BBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC), radio, and in newspaper interviews (including The New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal).
Dr. Hotez obtained his undergraduate degree from Yale University, his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University in 1986, and his M.D. from Weil Cornell Medical College. He has authored more than 600 original papers and is the author of five single-author books, including: Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases; Blue Marble Health: An Innovative Plan to Fight Diseases of the Poor amid Wealth; Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism; and Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-science.