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Take as Directed is the podcast series of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center. It highlights important news, events, issues, and perspectives in global health policy, particularly in infectious disease, health security, and maternal, newborn, and child health. The podcast brings you commentary and perspectives from some of the leading voices in global health and CSIS Global Health Policy Center in-house experts
 
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Philip Zelikow, former executive director of the 9/11 Commission, has launched an ambitious fast-moving planning effort to scope what a commission on the pandemic in America would examine, how it would be organized, what value it would deliver, how it would navigate our treacherous political terrain, why it needs to move fast to nail down what happ…
 
This week the CSIS Schieffer Series hosted a high-energy exchange on “The Next Phase Of Covid-19.” Steve and Andrew were joined by Jeremy Konyndyk, executive director of USAID’s Covid-19 Task Force, who delivered a stirring keynote address outlining USAID’s vision for addressing the burgeoning pandemic crisis while simultaneously investing in long-…
 
Dan Diamond has covered health, politics, and the White House for the Washington Post since January 19. What is going on in the international side of the US response to the pandemic? It is “piecemeal,” unclear who is making decisions, lacks a strategy, the approach is “much vaguer” than the domestic response. The US has announced a number of import…
 
Dr. Monica Gandhi has thought deeply about the complex transition we have entered, with many vaccinated, and many not. We need to behave differently in private versus public settings. Being polite and compassionate remain essential. Resistance to vaccines comes from different populations, each requiring a different approach: racial and ethnic minor…
 
Dr. Castrucci joined us to discuss his evolving collaborations with noted Republican pollster Frank Luntz, an expert who is a “master class in communications.” Through a series of surveys and focus groups, they have teamed up to understand how best to engage conservative Republican voters who refuse or are otherwise deeply resistant to getting vacc…
 
We sat down this week with the acclaimed survey expert, Mollyann Brodie who been exceptionally busy in recent months, engaging over 11,000 American adults. She finds it remarkable “how fast and dynamic vaccine confidence has moved” across all population groups, reaching acceptance among two-thirds of Americans. The “moveable middle,” of persons wai…
 
Dr. Deborah Birx, former Trump White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator and renowned global HIV/AIDS leader, spoke to us about a rich assortment of issues: the recent drama surrounding her statements about the Trump administration; her almost 7 months on the road across America, far from Washington, visiting with 44 governors; the corrosive div…
 
Journalist, writer, editor Frances Stead Sellers returned to share new insights. Leaders like Henrietta Fore, UNICEF, struggle with “incredible added burdens” dealing with crises in childhood education and disrupted immunizations while “vaccinating the world” against Covid-19 with Gavi. “Imagine being Henrietta Fore. .. The strains on the organizat…
 
Dr. Jennifer Kates and Josh Michaud, Kaiser Family Foundation, take us on a tour d’horizon. Rapidly accelerating vaccine coverage has resulted in “a huge, huge change.” By the end of June, we will have twice the volume of vaccines needed to inoculate America’s 260 million adults. Improvements in testing and surveillance lag – “We can’t just focus o…
 
Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the Washington DC Department of Health, shares her insights into battling the pandemic. Washington is the opposite of self-contained. Protesters of many stripes transport their grievances to Washington, often stoking “strife and agitation” with little regard for the health of the community. Emergency preparations …
 
Helen last joined us on April 2, 2020, a dark moment. She returned to explore with us whether the joy, relief, and gratitude that millions are experiencing through Covid vaccines generate gains in other disease areas, where adult vaccination “is a hard field.” “These vaccines have been extraordinary” with “very few side effects.” Among Republicans,…
 
Peter Hotez joins us for a Texas-centered conversation. After 11 years in Washington DC, Peter migrated to Texas where over the past several years he has established himself as a leading research scientist, public voice on infectious disease, including SARS-CoV-2, vocal advocate of vaccines, and opponent of anti-science, anti-vaccine voices. How di…
 
Ashish Jha, a determined optimist, gives the Biden administration an A- for its first six weeks. The picture today is “dramatically better.” “A light switch went on after January 20,” when states could suddenly ask for – and receive – help. An “extraordinary bump-up” in vaccinations is underway: “We have more vaccines coming than we will know what …
 
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, the NYT’s health policy correspondent, returned to our podcast to reflect on the first month of the Biden administration. Its approach “could not be more different” than that of the Trump administration. The transition has “brought order,” the pieces are “ a lot more buttoned-down.” Caution is a watchword: the President does no…
 
Chris Murray kindly returned to the podcast for another round. We know now that variants increase transmissibility “by quite a bit,” and have the potential to increase the fatality rate and escape vaccines, lowering efficacy rates. The Novavax trial, ominously, showed that one variant can reinfect individuals previously infected. It’s a new, uncert…
 
…if you are fed misinformation from the top of the US government. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist joined us to reflect on his life and where our country is. “I have radically changed my life … for the better. Refocused my life on nature.” In his 12 years in the Senate, he was the only doctor who had taken care of a patient… the only scient…
 
We were delighted to join this week with Scott Kirby, the CEO of United Airlines. The impact of the pandemic upon the airline industry has been “devastating,” the worst in its history. Luckily, bipartisan broad-based support for the industry – contained in the CARES Act and the December $900 B emergency measure – has preserved this critical infrast…
 
Dr. Alisha Kramer, a CSIS alum and young doctor serving poor, black, pregnant women in Atlanta hospitals, rejoins us for a second podcast. One year into the pandemic, a “new normal” has arisen that is still jarring, a “disconnect” in the changes in medical practice. Vaccine hesitancy is a “shocking” matter among nursing staff. Black persons “have e…
 
Dr. Céline Gounder, a member of the Biden-Harris Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board, takes a look at where we are, less than one week after President Biden assumed power. Deborah Birx and Tony Fauci have each come forward, unshackled, to discuss the moral and professional quandaries they faced, including threats and coercion, as Trump erected false…
 
Chef Jose Andres sat down with us to reflect on his life, the organizations he has founded, and his unique, powerful vision for using food to transform communities, battle inequities, advance unity and strengthen economies. When he landed in America as a young man, “I became an American way before I became an American by a passport.” Two years late…
 
Dr. Luciana Borio, a member of President-elect Biden’s Covid-19 Advisory Group and the transition team, scanned the horizon. On the development of Covid-19 vaccines: “All in all, this has been a spectacular success.” Special tribute goes to the FDA career staff, the “heroes” who charted the path forward. Now most worrying: ensuring large scale manu…
 
Chris Murray, the renowned modeler, joined us to share his year-end reflections. In this year unlike any other, Covid-19 pushed modeling onto new ground, as forecasting of individual and governmental behavior became essential to inform decisions in the near to medium term. It’s been “a steep learning curve.” Looking ahead to 2021, in Q1 and 2 we wi…
 
Steve and Andrew had the good fortune to catch Suzanne Firstenberg shortly after the recent conclusion of her stunning public art installation, ‘In America…. How could this happen?,’ a dramatic tribute to those lost to Covid-19. This “awakening,” comprised of 267, 080 white flags, stood on the parade grounds of the Washington DC National Guard Armo…
 
Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), joined Steve Morrison and CSIS Senior Fellow Katherine Bliss for an extended conversation. Why have the Americas become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic? What does it signal in terms of deep inequities, weak health systems, and quality of leadership? The region f…
 
A renowned medical and public health voice of compassion, personal advice, pragmatism and vision, Dr. Leana Wen joined us for a tour d’horizon of the pandemic, at this moment of “explosive exponential growth.” Why is it so crucial today to have credible, trusted public health voices? Why have so many Americans disregarded the recent Thanksgiving wa…
 
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