America’s top epidemiologist criticizes US’ COVID-19 response

Sydney, Australia, Oct 29 (efe-epa).- The United States’ top infectious diseases expert, Anthony Fauci, has criticized President Donald Trump’s administration’s erratic policy against COVID-19 and a lack of mask-wearing throughout the country.

During a webinar organized by the University of Melbourne on Wednesday, Fauci, who is the most senior member of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, praised Australia’s and New Zealand’s handling of the pandemic while admitting that he could not say the same about his own country.

“I would like to say the same for the United States. But the numbers speak for themselves,” he said.

Nearly 9 million COVID-19 infections and more than 228,000 deaths have been recorded in the US.

Fauci said masks, which are critical to prevent the spread of COVID-19, “have almost become a political statement” in the US.

“In fact, people were ridiculed for wearing masks [in the US]. It depended upon what side of a particular political spectrum you were at, which is so painful to me as a physician and a scientist and a public health person,” he added.

There is also an anti-vaccine movement in the US, where there is strong polarization over the policies against COVID-19 adopted by the Trump administration.

“Right now, there is a reluctance to take vaccines,” Fauci said. “Partly fueled by … mixed signals that are coming out from the government, that is not being very helpful” in a context in which the task of establishing a unified policy in the face of the pandemic is also hampered by the independence of each state in decision-making.

Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, noted that the problem of the disparity in strategies to tackle the pandemic was evident when the US tried to open up its economy, without necessarily following the recommendations on how to do so in a safe manner.

“You’ve really got to try and articulate the importance of walking that fine line of maintaining the public health without so damaging the economy that you’re essentially negating the good that you’re trying to do,” Fauci said.

Fauci, who was recently criticized by Trump when he said “people are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” also defended his independence as a scientist.

“You should always remember that in order to maintain your credibility, you should speak consistently based on the science. The science guides what we’re going to do and what we are doing,” Fauci said, adding that experts must never be afraid to tell governments something they don’t want to hear. EFE-EPA


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