Trump Picks Muslim American Expert to Lead Covid-19 Vaccine Effort

President Donald Trump has picked renowned Moroccan-born Muslim American immunologist Dr. Moncef Mohamed Slaoui to  lead  Operation Warp Speed, America's COVID-19 vaccine program. Trump has compared this vaccine effort with the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb in the 1940s.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui
Dr. Slaoui is a highly recognized scientist and a successful leader who has delivered as GSK's head of vaccines. He appears to have more of a can-do entrepreneurial approach to solving problems. He has recently been running a life-sciences VC fund in Philadelphia.

Announcing the appointment, Trump described Slaoui as “one of the most respected men in the world in the production and, really, on the formulation of vaccines.” “Operation Warp Speed’s chief scientist will be Dr Moncef Slaoui, a world-renowned immunologist who helped create 14 new vaccines,” Trump said at a White House news briefing. “That’s a lot of our new vaccines — in 10 years, during his time in the private sector,” he added.

Dr. Slaoui is an ethnic berber born in the Moroccan coastal city of Agadir which is famous for its beaches, according to Dr. Juan Cole of University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Dr. Cole has hailed Dr. Slaoui's appointment in his blog post titled "I guess “Islam” doesn’t Hate us After All: Trump pins hopes for Vaccine on Muslim-American Slaoui".

Dr. Slaoui is listed as an author on over 100 scientific papers. He worked for 30 years at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and for a decade he headed up its worldwide Research and Development department. He also served for two years as chair of GSK Vaccines, notes Yahia Hatim at Morocco World News.  Slaoui, a former professor of immunology at the University of Mons, Belgium, said that Operation Warp Speed will make available a few hundred million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year.

There are a large number of Muslim Americans on the frontlines of war against the novel coronavirus. Among them is Dr. Syra MadadPakistani-American head of New York City’s Health and Hospitals System-wide Special Pathogens Program, who is featured in a 6-part Netflix documentary series "Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak".

Pakistani-American doctors are the 3rd largest among foreign-educated doctors in America. Among the notable names of Pakistani-American doctors engaged in the fight against Covid-19 are: Dr. Saud Anwar in Connecticut, Dr. Gul Zaidi in New York and Dr. Umair Shah in Texas. Their work has received positive media coverage in recent weeks.

Dr. Saud Anwar, a Connecticut pulmonologist and state senator, came up with a ventilator splitter to deal with the shortages of life-saving equipment. Dr. Gul Zaidi, an acute-care pulmonologist in Long Island, was featured in a CBS 60 Minutes segment on how the doctors are dealing with unprecedented demands to save lives. Dr. Umair Shah was interviewed about his work by ABC TV affiliate in Houston, Texas.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#China pledges $2 billion to fight #coronavirus as Donald #Trump threatens to cut #WHO funding permanently. #COVID19 https://www.newsweek.com/china-pledges-2-billion-fight-coronavirus-donald-trump-threatens-cut-who-funding-permanently-1504919

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged an additional $2 billion to battle the novel coronavirus over the next two years while the United States doubled down on its criticism of the World Health Organization at its annual gathering Monday.

"China will provide $2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social development in affected countries, especially developing countries," Xi said at a virtual session for the 73rd World Health Assembly.

He also said he supported a "comprehensive review" of the world's handling of the coronavirus "after it is brought under control".

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar represented the U.S. in place of President Donald Trump and condemned the WHO's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

"There was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives," he said.

"We saw that WHO failed at its core mission of information sharing and transparency when member states do not act in good faith," Azar added, referring to China.

Last month, the U.S. suspended funding to the United Nations agency over accusations that it was too "China-centric" in its handling of the new coronavirus. He has since continued to threaten to withhold WHO funds entirely pending a review of its performance.

On Monday, Trump told reporters at the White House the WHO has "done a very sad job" in leading the global fight against the novel coronavirus. "They're a puppet of China," he added. "I'm not happy with the World Health Organization."

White House national security council spokesperson John Ullyot also echoed the president's sentiment, and called Xi's new pledge "a token to distract from calls from a growing number of nations demanding accountability for the Chinese government's failure to meet its obligations under International Health Regulations to tell the truth and warn the world of what was coming."

Shortly after Trump initially halted funds last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China had already paid $20 million in March and would contribute an additional $30 million to battle the novel coronavirus. In a statement sent to Newsweek Monday, WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood confirmed these payments but said they were "unrelated to offsetting the halt on U.S. funding."

Newsweek reported Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency believes China attempted to pressure the WHO against announcing a public health emergency in January, citing a report corroborated by two senior U.S. intelligence officials. WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier declined to discuss specific discussions with member states but said "the WHO has acted in accordance with its mandate as an evidence-based technical organization focusing on protecting all people, everywhere."

He denied any direct contacts between Xi and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on January 21 as alleged in an earlier report by German newspaper Der Spiegel, citing a German intelligence report.
Riaz Haq said…
#Karachi-based #Pakistani Physician Dr Anita Zaidi appointed President of #GenderEquality at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She has also served as director of #Vaccine Development, Surveillance, and Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases programs. https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/671634-dr-anita-zaidi-appointed-as-president-gender-equality-at-bill-melinda-gates-foundation

Pakistani Physician Dr Anita Zaidi has been appointed as the new president Gender Equality at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In a remarkable feat for Pakistan, Zaidi is now a part of the Executive leadership team (ELT), included among the six other foundation presidents.


Zaidi has also served as the director of the Vaccine Development, Surveillance, and Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases programs at Bill Gates and Melinda Foundation.

"Her team’s work is focused on vaccine development for people in the poorest parts of the world, surveillance to identify and address causes of death in children in the most under-served areas, and significantly reducing the adverse consequences of diarrheal and enteric infections on children’s health in low and middle-income countries," read the text on the official site of Bill Gates and Melinda Foundation.

Anita obtained her medical degree from the Aga Khan University in Karachi, residency training in pediatrics and fellowship training in medical microbiology from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

She undertook further training in pediatric infectious diseases from Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Masters in Tropical Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

"In 2013 Anita became the first recipient of the $1 million Caplow Children’s Prize for work in one of Karachi’s poverty-stricken fishing communities to save children’s lives. She was nominated as a notable physician of the year in 2014 by Medscape," read the website.
Riaz Haq said…
Houston Doctor (From Pakistan) Fired for Giving Away Doses of Covid Vaccine - The New York Times

Dr. Gokal, 48, immigrated from Pakistan as a boy and earned a medical degree at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. After working at hospitals in Central New York, he moved to Texas in 2009 to oversee the emergency department at a suburban Houston hospital. His volunteer work has included rebuilding homes and providing medical care after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.


https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/10/us/houston-doctor-fired-covid-vaccine.html


As news of his alleged crime spread, Dr. Gokal heard from relatives and friends in Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. “Many were calling me for support, telling me, ‘We know you better than that,’” he said. “But there were a lot of people who didn’t call.”
Days later, a criminal court judge, Franklin Bynum, dismissed the case for lack of probable cause.

———————

“It is difficult to understand any justification for charging any well-intentioned physician in this situation with a criminal offense,” the statement said.
Dane Schiller, the district attorney’s director of communications, declined to answer questions about the case. He said in an email that when the matter is presented to a grand jury, “representatives of the community can vote on whether an indictment is warranted.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Gokal said, he continues to pay a price for not wasting a vaccine in a pandemic. His voice broke as he counted the toll.
He lost his job. His wife struggles to sleep. His children are worried. And hospitals have told him not to come back until his case is resolved.
He spends his time volunteering at a nonprofit health clinic for the uninsured, haunted all the while by the realization that no matter what, it will still be out there: the story about that Pakistani doctor in Houston who stole all those vaccines.
“How can I take it back?” that doctor asked.

--------------


Dr. Gokal, 48, immigrated from Pakistan as a boy and earned a medical degree at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. After working at hospitals in Central New York, he moved to Texas in 2009 to oversee the emergency department at a suburban Houston hospital. His volunteer work has included rebuilding homes and providing medical care after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
In recent years, Dr. Gokal split his time between two area hospitals. But when the pandemic hit in early 2020, he lived for a month in a hotel and an apartment rather than risk infecting his wife, Maria, 47, who has pulmonary sarcoidosis, a disease in her lungs that leaves her winded after even minimal activity.
“I was petrified to go home and bring Covid to my wife,” he said.
Fortunately, he said, the Harris County Public Health department recruited him in April to become the medical director for its Covid-response team. The job paid less, but he was eager to protect his wife by limiting his exposure to the coronavirus in emergency rooms.
On Dec. 22, Dr. Gokal joined a conference call in which state health officials explained the protocols for administering the recently approved Moderna vaccine. The 10 or 11 doses in a vial are viable for six hours after the seal is punctured.
Dr. Gokal said the advice was to vaccinate people eligible under the 1(a) category (health care workers and residents in long-term-care facilities), then those under the 1(b) category (people over 65 or with a health condition that increases risk of severe Covid-related illness).
After that, he said, the message was: “Just put it in people’s arms. We don’t want any doses to go to waste. Period.”
On Dec. 29, a mild Tuesday, Dr. Gokal arrived before dawn at a park in the Houston suburb of Humble to supervise a vaccination event intended mostly for emergency workers. In part because of minimal publicity, the pace was slow, with no more than 250 doses administered. But this was the county’s first public event, he said. “We knew there would be hiccups.”
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani doctors recognize the heroes of pandemic among them | ksdk.com

https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/health/pakistani-physicians-of-st-louis-acknowledge-their-heroes-appna-who-forge-ahead-against-pandemic/63-4f5df9a5-15cb-4058-900f-3cf58ff1645e

T. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America recognized healthcare workers for being on the front lines during the ongoing pandemic.

"I think there's strength in numbers," said Dr. Tariq Alam, St. Louis Chapter President of APPNA. "One physician alone can't win this fight. We all have to pour in our ideas. Get the best from everyone and get the best solution for our region."


For the 250-plus members, collaborating across healthcare networks in our region was easy, Dr. Alam said. He also says it brought doctors closer to the community.

"We have many who have language barriers, or economic barriers," Dr. Alam said. "Basically being able to reach out to them, I think that is one of our highlights."

Member and St. Louis County Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan said there's not enough praise to go around.


"The only reason we aren't looking at a 3 million or 4 million death count is because of the selfless work and sacrifice of healthcare providers across the country," Dr. Khan said. "We owe them everything."

Khan said the work isn't done yet.

"I am very happy that nearly 35% in the St. Louis region is vaccinated," Dr. Khan said. "I am equally worried that 65% of us are not. We are not out of this yet."

Khan is happy that county leaders support strong health guidelines until we cross the finish line. He said it's going to take more community action before things return to normal.

"It depends entirely on how the virus behaves, on the number of people getting vaccinated and the spread of disease in smaller communities in high-risk groups," Khan said.

Until then, doctors say mask up and get the vaccine or encourage others to do so.

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