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National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on November 04, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Chief White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a new interview that there is a “very disconcerting” politically partisan divide over science in the United States, which has hampered the nation’s response to the Covid pandemic.
Fauci noted that “because I am representing science” in telling people to get coronavirus vaccinations and to continue to wear masks, “I get attacked” in the form of death threats which require him to have protection by federal agents.
“What we’re seeing is a public health issue which requires synergy among all elements of our government, where we realize that the common enemy is the virus,” he told Dr. Bill Frist, a former Senate majority leader who conducted the interview shown online Monday during a coronavirus outlook event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“Sometimes, when you listen to people speak, it’s almost that the enemy is each other,” Fauci told Frist, a Republican who represented Tennessee in the Senate. “And we have public health decisions that are based on [ideological] considerations. You should never have that.”
Fauci, without mentioning political party affiliations or the names of his two most recent bosses, then referred to markedly higher Covid-19 vaccination rates among people who live in counties that voted for President Joe Biden, a Democrat, than people who live in counties which former Republican President Donald Trump won in the 2020 election.
“You should never have, looking at a map, and seeing that people who are vaccinated fall heavily into one group and people who are unvaccinated fall heavily into another group,” Fauci said. “That is so antithetical with what public health should be, which should be a concerted effort on the part of the entire population.”
Frist noted that when he served in the Senate and Republicans held a majority, Congress doubled funding for the National Institutes of Health, whose allergy and infectious disease division Fauci has led since 1984.
Now, Frist said, “It seems like a lot of those same people are questioning science.”
“It’s become more of a partisan divide around science,” said Frist, who, without naming names or parties, appeared to be referencing widespread opposition to vaccine and mask mandates by a number of leading Republican politicians.
Fauci quipped, “I think if you were back in the Senate right now, you would have heartburn.”
Fauci later said, “You’re right. There is an anti-science element right now that has a very strong political twinge to it, which is very disconcerting.”
“I hope that when we get out of this, people will look back and realize we don’t ever want to do that again because it really hindered our response to this pandemic,” he said.
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