I still can’t get over the loss of Al Franken as a senator. But he does now have one of the best podcasts. It’s funny of course and Al has a natural curiosity that means he doesn’t ask the same questions that everyone else does which leads to really interesting shows.
I’m thinking of 2017 when Al famously asked Jeff Sessions a question that ended up leading to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Were it not for that question there might not have been an investigation. So there’s that.
Al also has fun, personal anecdotes to share from his senate days. And he doesn’t mind setting the record straight on things you always wondered about that went on during his time there. So Al has a special talent and you kind of feel like a fly on the wall when you are listening to an Al Franken podcast.
On this show guests Andy Slavitt and Laurie Garrett talk about the importance of trust in our government regulatory agencies and institutions – specifically, the erosion of trust in our public health institutions – The FDA, the CDC, and the Department of Health and Human Services under Donald Trump. And the “tragic consequences now and in the future.”
This observation by Andy Slavitt was in the context of FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn apologizing last month for “overstating” about a COVID-19 treatment. Because of obfuscation and disinformation from the Trump administration, the public to a large degree has lost understanding of how vaccines work, that the idea is that they work because everyone gets vaccinated. Vaccines protect the public health because they are universal. Many people today think it’s just a personal health care decision. But there has also been a loss of trust. Slavitt explains the problem with this:
“Vaccine effectiveness and vaccine trust are equal. You can have a vaccine that is only 30% effective but if it’s 100% trusted you’ll get immunity on 30% of your population. Likewise if you have a vaccine that is 100% effective but only 30% trusted you get the same outcome. So the FDA’s role is not just to evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine; it’s to be highly, highly trusted… and to set up a process and say this is our standard and then under pressure from the president say well, we’re not going to follow that standard – that does so much damage not just to this vaccine but to all vaccines that we count on in our modern society.”
Listen to the podcast here.
Al Franken’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChK2Q2QyQlygpwSp8AE24TQ