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Florida’s Nigeria-born surgeon general aims to dispel COVID-19 ‘fear’

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Florida’s new Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has said that he is committed to rooting out ‘fear’ which has become a centerpiece of health policy in the United States, especially since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Ladapo, a Nigerian-American medical professor, would replace Scott Rivkees, who announced his resignation last month, amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Rivkees will vacate his office by the end of the month.

“Telling the truth is important, and I think that’s what Dr. Ladapo understands,” the governor said, agreeing there had been misinformation spread about COVID-19 to control personal behavior.

Ladapo had argued that there was nothing special about vaccines when compared to any other preventive measure and that the state should be promoting good health and not necessarily compelling people to get vaccinated.

“Vaccines are up to the person. It’s been treated almost like a religion. It’s just senseless. There’s lots of good pathways to health. Florida will completely reject fear as a way of making policies in public health. We’re going to be very explicit about the differences between the science and our opinions,” he said.

Meanwhile, criticisms have trailed his appointment that puts him in charge of managing the pandemic in the state of Florida that already has among the highest number of coronavirus cases, hospitalisations and deaths in the U.S.

Democratic National Committee Spokeswoman Adonna Biel called DeSantis’ decision to appoint Ladapo a dangerous one.

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“Instead of going with a trusted advocate for science, DeSantis is once again playing games with peoples’ lives by appointing someone who has trafficked anti-vaccine and anti-mask rhetoric,” Biel said in a statement to CBS Miami.

She added that the American people were ready to return to normalcy but Ladapo’s appointment was capable of dangerously prolonging the pandemic and wreaking havoc in the state.

Ladapo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was five years. Part of his lengthy resume includes graduating from Wake Forest University, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Until his appointment, he was an associate professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine UCLA.

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