WASHINGTON: Leading American scientist Anthony Fauci on Saturday criticized anti-vaccination commentators, saying America may still be fighting smallpox and polio if today’s misinformation existed.
Comments from the country’s leading infectious disease expert reflected growing frustration over the sharp slowdown in the rate of Covid-19 vaccinations in the United States, despite the fact that incidence has skyrocketed in low-performing states.
It also came just days after President Joe Biden expressed his apparent disappointment, stating that social media networks that spread widespread misinformation about vaccines are “killing people.”
Fauci responded to a CNN interviewer who asked if he thought “we could beat measles or eradicate polio if you had Fox News, night after night, warning people about these vaccine problems, which are bullshit.”
Fauci said: “We would probably still have smallpox and probably still have polio … if we had the false information being spread.”
Initial skepticism about vaccines in many areas grew increasingly into outright hostility – a message reinforced by unfounded conspiracy theories regularly broadcast by Fox and other conservative networks.
“Maybe it doesn’t work and they just don’t tell you about it,” said Tucker Carlson, one of the most popular Fox commentators, recently.
Instead, vaccines have proven to be extremely effective. Officials in Maryland, for example, said that none of the people who died from the disease in the state last month have been vaccinated.
Asked to send door-to-door vaccine educators to get people to get shots, Fox commentator Charlie Hurt said, “They’ve become like the Taliban.”
Conservative politicians are increasingly echoing former President Donald Trump’s mockery of the Covid precautionary measure.
North Carolina-based spokesperson Madison Cowthorne said the community caregivers could instead come and take people’s weapons or their Bibles.
After the initial spike in vaccinations across the country, the pace has slowed sharply.
Biden’s announced goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults by July 4 fell by about three points, and vaccination rates have declined further since then, despite the proliferation of the Delta variant.
Some Republicans have tried to place the blame for the destruction of this disease and economic turmoil on the most respected Fauci.
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced the so-called Fire Safety Act, calling for his salary to be reduced to zero and requiring Senate approval for the replacement. The account is not expected to go anywhere.
Fauci was asked on CNN about T-shirts being sold by a political action group affiliated with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that read “Not Fauci, My Florida.”
He looked genuinely puzzled.
“If you take a public health person for the truth … and use my name in a derogatory sense to prevent people from doing things that benefit their own health, try to find out.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said, shaking his head. – AFP