Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Thursday he was troubled by the rise in “anti-science” beliefs throughout the country, saying such ill-founded sentiments could be “a problem” as the nation seeks to move past the coronavirus 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,” Fauci told the podcast “Learning Curve,” presented by the Department of Health and Human Services.
“That’s unfortunate because, you know, science is truth,” he added.
Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has been one of the nation’s touchstones of scientific wisdom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in which more than 2.1 million people in the U.S. have been infected. He has regularly urged caution as President Donald Trump has pushed states to kickstart their economies and relax social distancing measures, warning the pandemic was far from over earlier this month.
But the doctor said Tuesday that, despite a surge in cases in some states that have reopened, he hadn’t spoken to Trump in two weeks. The task force also hasn’t held a televised news briefing in more than a month.
Trump himself has pushed back against science and regularly speculated, without evidence, that the virus will go away on its own. He also said that the U.S. was seeing an uptick in cases only because there had been more testing.
“If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases,” Trump claimed this week, despite data that shows several states are seeing new record highs for daily diagnoses.
The president is still planning to hold a massive indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday despite concerns from local health officials that it could put attendees at risk of spreading the coronvirus. It’s unclear if any health experts told Trump it was safe to hold the event, which is expected to draw about 20,000 people.
Fauci touted efforts across the United States to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus during the interview this week, noting it was “overwhelmingly” the quickest such work had ever been done. But he also warned that the anti-vaccination movement could undermine such efforts.
“It’s amazing sometimes the denial there is,” he said on the podcast. “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. That’s really a problem.”
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