Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that the United States faces a problem of “anti-science bias” and a lack of trust in authority from the general public.
Fauci made the comments during an appearance on the Department of Health and Human Services podcast “Learning Curve” on Wednesday. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a key member of President Trump’s coronavirus task force and has been influential in shaping the U.S. response to 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 are sometimes … inconceivable and not understandable, they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said. “When they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who is talking about science, there are some people who just don’t believe that, and that is unfortunate.”
“Science is truth, and if you go by the evidence and by the data, you are speaking the truth,” he said. “And it is amazing sometimes the denial there is. I think the people who believe are people who understand and have trust in someone who has a very, very long track record of always speaking the truth based on evidence.”
The expert immunologist also addressed recent criticism he has received after he admitted to downplaying the usefulness of masks to the general public early in the outbreak. Fauci said last week that concerns over the supply of face masks led him and other health experts to downplay the face mask’s efficacy to help ensure a supply to doctors, nurses, and other frontline healthcare workers.
“My job is to give public health, based on facts, based on evidence, and to give it honestly both to the vice president, the president, and to the general public,” Fauci said. “I have the responsibility, which I take very seriously, of always being consistent and basing what you say on evidence. There are times when you don’t have all the evidence you need, but you have to make judgements based on both prior experience and the degree of evidence that you have.”
At a time when there was a shortage of PPE, and a shortage of masks, many health officials, myself included, were saying masks are not perfect. The people who really need the masks, the N-95s and other masks, the surgical masks, are the people in the healthcare community who, in fact, are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to take care of sick people, so it would be terrible if all of a sudden everybody started hoarding masks and they weren’t available and the healthcare providers wouldn’t have it. Then, when it became clear that there was transmission by people who were without symptoms, that you can’t assume that if you walk out in your society and someone is not coughing and not sneezing that you’re okay because we know now that 25-45% of people who are infected are asymptomatic. Therefore, there is a compelling reason to where a mask.
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