Fauci worries about ‘anti-science attitude’ during radio appearance


“The anti-science atmosphere that many of us have experienced is very disturbing.”

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington, DC on January 11. Bloomberg

In recent years, the percentage of adults in the United States who have “a great deal of trust” in medical scientists has fallen to less than a third, a trend Dr. Anthony Fauci says he hopes will not last.

“We are living in what I think is a growing anti-science attitude right now,” the president’s chief medical adviser Joe Biden said on WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio” on Monday. “We’ve seen this grow over the past few years, and it’s now reaching a point with COVID, where some very obvious scientific truths based on clear, very visible data are being dismissed by people. The anti-science atmosphere that many of us have experienced is very disturbing.

Fauci said if there was ever a time to form an opinion based on data and facts, it’s now.

“We live in a time where normalizing untruths is so much a part of what we live with,” he said. “It’s so prevalent, the denial of reality, the conspiracy theories about vaccinations. It’s amazing how distorted it is. I mean, that’s bad on its own, but when it gets in the way of the proper and appropriate response to a deadly outbreak, it becomes even more tragic.

Fauci said social media, which he described as a largely uncontrolled way to share information, is partly responsible for the misinterpretation of his remarks and the widespread spread of misinformation. It’s a hurdle he says has made it harder to bring a deadly outbreak under control.

During the radio show, Fauci also discussed the future of COVID aid without more congressional funding; the “Fauci effect”, which has led to an increase in applications for medical and public health schools; and his decision not to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in late April.

Last week the United States reached 1 million deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, a grim milestone that Fauci said he hoped would spur action to prevent the next two months.

“We know the difference in hospitalizations and deaths among those who are vaccinated and boosted compared to the unvaccinated; it is [an] extraordinary difference, the data is so clear on vaccination,” Fauci said. “[It] doesn’t necessarily protect everyone against infection, that’s for sure, because we see infections in people who have been vaccinated. But the protection against serious illnesses leading to hospitalization and death is very, very effective.

However, more preventative measures could be stalled in Congress, where elected leaders have yet to approve more funding for the country’s COVID response, he said.

“We have to stimulate people,
the doctor said. “We need to get a lot more antiviral drugs. We need to have money for vaccine doses and vaccine trials. We really need the resources we are asking for. It’s not just pro forma asking for more resources. We really need it if we are to do our best to prevent things from continuing or even getting worse.

As things stand, the United States will miss commanding significant resources, according to a Biden administration fact sheet.

Last week, Fauci chose not to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Comedian Trevor Noah, who hosted the dinner, said if Fauci doesn’t think it’s safe, no one should be there, which Fauci said on Monday isn’t entirely accurate.

“If we want to be as a society, to live with something that is not going to go away, then each individual has to make their own assessment of the personal risk they are willing to take based on a number of factors,” he said. Fauci said. “I didn’t mean that because I decided not to go, that has to influence someone else’s personal decision and your personal decision is based on things that might be obvious.”

He listed his age, 81, as the reason he was not present, but said many factors contributed to his decision.

“Some people may have underlying conditions that they don’t want the world to know about,” Fauci said. “They can live with a vulnerable person if they bring the infection home. Even if they don’t become very symptomatic, they can put a loved member of their own family at risk. There are so many different reasons why people take different risks. And what I meant was that each individual has to make their own personal decision. And I did, and it was just for me. It wasn’t for anyone else.

Over the past couple of years or so, Fauci has become a household name. His rise to prominence sparked the need for a security detail, he told hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. But it has also inspired what some call the “Fauci effect,” or a surge in medical school applications.

“We need to involve bright young people in medicine and public health and if anything about me or my image promotes that I feel great about it,” Fauci said. “I’m just very happy to see that many bright young people, because of what is happening right now, have chosen medicine, science and public health as their careers.”

Fauci pointed out that even though the number of cases is increasing, vaccinations and other precautions are still working – which can be seen in the death rate.

“Obviously this virus is very contagious,” Fauci said. “We know that vaccinated and even boosted people can be infected. But the data is very clear on how vaccination and booster, when your booster time arrives, has a major positive effect in preventing you for the most part… from going into serious illness, leading to hospitalizations and death.


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