Dr. Anthony Fauci Says He Never Could Have Anticipated the Level of Misinformation on COVID-19

From a post on poynter.org by Angela Fu headlined “Dr, Anthony Fauci says he never could have anticipated the level of COVID-19 misinformation”:

Even after working as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 37 years under seven presidents, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he never could have anticipated the level of misinformation that has arisen from the pandemic.

“I’ve never seen anything begin to approach … the divisiveness that we’re seeing, but also the distortion of reality,” Fauci said. “There’s so much distortion of reality and complete misinformation out there that, you know, if it wasn’t so serious and have such a negative impact, it would almost be funny. But it’s not funny.”

His remarks came as part of an interview on coronavirus misinformation with PolitiFact managing editor Katie Sanders for the United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking….

“Out of necessity and the maintenance of my own integrity, I had to come out and disagree with some of the things that President Trump said,” Fauci said, citing the hydroxychloroquine incident as well as the time when Trump claimed the virus would disappear soon. “Then it became very clear that the attacks on me were getting more and more and more, and then the conspiracy theories started to come in.”…

In addition to correcting Trump, Fauci has spoken out against false claims perpetuated by public figures like Fox News host Tucker Carlson and comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan. Hours before his interview with PolitiFact, Fauci challenged a false claim by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that the National Institutes of Health had funded risky virus research in Wuhan. Fauci reiterated his stance during the interview, calling Paul’s claim “preposterous.”

Generally, though, Fauci said he avoids confrontations because they’re “distracting” and responds to false claims when they interfere with public health goals.

“When someone makes a statement that is, you know, egregiously incorrect and would actually counter the things that I and my public health colleagues are trying to do, then you feel it’s almost your obligation to publicly correct it,” Fauci said. “But I certainly don’t feel like I have to be the corrector of all the falseness out there.

Fauci said the past year has shown that the U.S. needs to build up its local public health systems and work more closely with other countries to prepare for future pandemics….

“I do believe by July, if we do get … that number 70% of adults getting at least one vaccine, that the level of infection will be low enough that you’re going to see a substantial pulling back on the rigidity of the recommendations and guidelines from the CDC,” Fauci said. “I’m almost certain that that’s going to happen.”

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