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The New York Times quoted Anne Rimoin, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of epidemiology and director of the Fielding School’s UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health, in a piece by columnist Nicholas Kristof comparing South Africa’s failed fight against AIDS under President Thabo Mbeki to the U.S. fight against COVID-19.
One of the most lethal leadership failures in modern times unfolded in South Africa in the early 2000s as AIDS spread there under President Thabo Mbeki.
Mbeki scorned science, embraced conspiracy theories, dithered as the disease spread and rejected lifesaving treatments. His denialism cost about 330,000 lives, a Harvard study found.
None of us who wrote scathingly about that debacle ever dreamed that something similar might unfold in the United States. But today, health experts regularly cite President Trump as an American Mbeki.