- The US government’s response to the novel coronavirus health crisis has been met with an anti-science bias from some Americans, Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a new interview.
- The infectious disease expert said some people do not believe scientific facts and authority, and that can be a real problem.
- Fauci also defended recent lockdowns that saved millions of lives, addressed the effects of the pandemic on black Americans, and explained the promising progress of coronavirus vaccine development.
Fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus is all the more difficult if people aren’t willing to cooperate now that lockdowns and restrictions are being eased. Respecting social distancing measures, wearing face masks, and washing your hands often are the simplest things you can do to protect yourself and the people around you. Several studies have already shown that the virus can travel with ease in the air, especially indoors, and it turns out that 6 feet isn’t nearly far enough for social distancing when inside. Other researchers have estimated that lockdown measures saved lives and prevented hundreds of millions of additional infections that could have put a serious strain on medical systems.
Those are just a few examples of the increasing number of COVID-19 studies that have helped explain how the virus infects people, how it kills, and how it can be neutralized. In fact, it’s scientific research that told us drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone work in certain types of COVID-19 and that hydroxychloroquine isn’t the miracle cure Trump claimed it was. It’s also science that offered promising answers about vaccine candidates and brand new drugs that are being developed for the worst virus the world has had to face in a long time.
But not everybody seems to agree, and many people are willing to dispute all that research. Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview that anti-science bias is one of the biggest problems the US has to face while fighting the pandemic.
“One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” the nation’s leading infectious disease expert told CNN.
Fauci added, “So when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who’s talking about science, that there are some people who just don’t believe that — and that’s unfortunate because, you know, science is truth.”
He also addressed the resistance to science concerning vaccine therapies at a time when vaccines may provide the extra help we need to actually control the spread of the virus and prevent at-risk people from developing complications and dying of COVID-19.
“It’s amazing sometimes the denial there is. It’s the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers, who don’t want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines,” Fauci added. “That’s really a problem.”
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also addressed the US lockdown measures and the way they may have been perceived in some communities. But the scientific data proves that they worked. Fauci did not address any of the fake news and conspiracy theories that have been circulating online in the past few months and which could explain this resistance to scientific facts and official guidelines.
He said that lockdowns have saved “millions of lives.” “When you give advice about what should you be doing — should you be out there, should you be shutting down earlier versus later? I mean, people get confused,” he explained. “And they say, ‘Wow, you know, we shut down, and we caused a great disruption in society. We caused great economic pain, loss of jobs.”
“But if you look at the data, now that papers have come out literally two days ago, the fact that we shut down when we did, and the rest of the world did, has saved hundreds of millions of infections and millions of lives,” Fauci said. “And yet, there are those who say, ‘You shut down, you did destructive things by disrupting the economy.’ And others say, ‘Well if you save so many infections by shutting down, why didn’t you shut down two weeks earlier? You could have saved many more lives.’”
In the same interview, the expert acknowledged that the US COVID-19 epidemic impacted black Americans disproportionately, regardless of whether they were infected or not. He also addressed the massive vaccine effort that’s underway and reiterated that he’s cautiously optimistic about vaccines inducing protective responses. The full interview is available at this link.