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Vaccine Scientist Accuses Anti-Vaccine Activists of "Stalking" Him, After Joe Rogan and Elon Musk Challenged Him to Debate

Peter Hotez claims that anti-vaxxers have threatened his life. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Joe Rogan and Elon Musk were two of the most influential anti-vaxxers. Both high-profile men shared their opinion about the controversial jab and were even accused of spreading misinformation at one point. This week, a vaccine scientist claims that after Rogan and Musk challenged him to debate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., another anti-vaccine proponent and Democratic presidential candidate, he has received a slew of threats and is even being stalked by random people. 

Peter Hotez Helped Make the COVID-19 Vaccine

Scientist studying COVID-19 in lab

The Washington Post reports that Peter Hotez, a Houston-based scientist and pediatrician in global health, vaccinology, and neglected tropical disease control, has spent many of the past few years debunking misinformation. He was also on the team of scientists who helped create an affordable vaccine. 

He Was Offered $100,000 to Debate Anti-Vaxxer RFK Jr.

Joe Rogan/Instagram

Hotez criticized Rogan calling him "awful" for hosting Kennedy, who has made claims that vaccines are linked to autism. Then, Rogan challenged Hotez to debate Kennedy in a tweet Saturday that's now been viewed more than 50 million times.

Rogan even offered to donate $100,000 to the charity of Hotez's choice "if you're willing to debate him on my show with no time limit." Other billionaires, including Musk, offered to throw money in the pot, with the Tesla CEO tweeting that Hotez was "afraid of a public debate, because he knows he's wrong."

Then Hotez Was Harassed at His Home By Anti-Vaxxers

Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD/Twitter


However, on Sunday, Hotez experienced harassment when people showed up to his home to confront him. He tweeted that he was "stalked in front of my home by a couple of antivaxers taunting me to debate RFKJr." They "accosted me when we were walking into the house," he told the publication. 

He Said the Latest "Wave of Aggression" Is the Worst in 20 Years


"He shoved a cellphone camera in my face and asked if I would debate RFK on Rogan. They were clearly lying in wait," Hotez continued. "It's very sad. All we were trying to do is get a cake for Father's Day."

He added, "The anti-vaccine attacks usually come in waves of aggression, and this one is about as bad as it's been in the last 20 years."

Kennedy Wants the Debate


Kennedy responded to one of the tweets, urging Hotez to have a "respectful, congenial, informative debate that the American people deserve." 

It All Started with Hotex Resharing a "Vice" Article

Spotify/Joe Rogan Experience

The drama started Thursday when Rogan hosted Kennedy on his show, where the two discussed the vaccine. A few days after, Hotez quote-tweeted his support of a Vice article titled, "Spotify Has Stopped Even Sort of Trying to Stem Joe Rogan's Vaccine Misinformation." He Tweeted on Saturday: "From all the online attacks I'm receiving after this absurd podcast, it's clear many actually believe this nonsense."

Hotez Open to Dialogue: "Always Willing to Speak"

Prof Peter Hotez MD PhD/Twitter

Rogan challenged him to debate Kennedy. Hotez responded that he was "always willing to speak" with him. "If you're really serious about what you stand for, you now have a massive opportunity for a debate that will reach the largest audience a discussion like this has ever had," added in another tweet. 

Hotez Said He Would Go on Rogan's Podcase But Did Not Want to Debate RFK Jr.

Spotify/Joe Rogan Experience

Hotez was "happy to come on and clear the air" but told the Post he would not do it with Kennedy, saying he didn't "think it's going to be productive" to speak to him again now about vaccine misinformation.

"To those misunderstanding what he's saying, he's NOT agreeing to debate @RobertKennedyJr," Rogan wrote.

Hotez Is Shocked About What Has Gone Down

Elon Musk at a post-launch news conference in 2019
Alex Gakos / Shutterstock

Hotez is shocked that influential Twitter users, including the owner, were going after him for quote-tweeting an article critical of Rogan.

"My first thought was, 'Between Rogan and Elon, and maybe RFK, too, it includes just about every follower on Twitter,'" he said, jokingly. "I was like, 'My God, what are they saying about me?'"

His Life Has Been Threatened

Police Car Sirens
Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

However, when he returned home and found people there, including one right-winger who approached him with his camera phone and asked him about "vaccine injuries on children," he started feeling threatened.

"These kind of people usually don't come to my home," he said. "You always worry if they are carrying a weapon. I wasn't going to hang around to find out." He's also received death threats, including Nazi imagery.

He Is Still Willing to Go on Rogan's Show


"He didn't have to blow this up by bringing in RFK, and the same goes for Elon. There was no reason for piling on like that," Hotez said. However, despite the blowback, he is still willing to speak with Rogan. "Joe can have me on his show at any time."

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