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In GBH interview, Fauci criticizes ‘growing anti-science attitude,’ vaccine conspiracy theories

Dr. Anthony Fauci testifying at a congressional hearing earlier this yearGreg Nash/Associated Press

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Monday decried what he said is a “growing anti-science attitude” in America, saying it has hampered the nation’s response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen that growing over the past few years, and it’s reaching a point now with COVID where some very obvious scientific truths based on clear-cut, very visible data are rejected by people,” Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser said in an interview on GBH News’s “Boston Public Radio” show.

“I mean, the anti-science atmosphere that many of us have experienced is very troubling. Because if ever there was a time where you wanted to pull together on the basis of data and facts, and proper, true information, it’s when you’re trying to get the country out of a historic, devastating pandemic. And unfortunately, we’re living in an era where the normalization of untruths is just so much part of what we live with,” he said in an interview with show hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan .

He criticized, in particular, the “denial of reality, the conspiracy theories about vaccinations. It’s stunning how distorted that is. I mean, that’s bad in and of itself, but when it gets in the way of the proper and appropriate response to a deadly outbreak, it becomes even more tragic.”

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He emphasized the importance of people getting vaccinated and boosted, saying the data was “crystal clear” that the shots make an “extraordinary difference” in protecting people from hospitalization and death from the deadly virus. “That’s the reason why we continue to encourage people who have not been vaccinated to do it for their own health, for their family, and for the whole community,” he said in the GBH interview.

Fauci also said the White House’s $22.5 billion coronavirus response funding bill, which has been stalled in Congress, is needed to address the continuing pandemic. Without it, he said, there will be “serious consequences.”

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He told Braude and Eagan, “We really do need those resources that we’re asking for. It’s not just pro forma asking for more resources. We really do need them if we want to do the optimal that we can do to prevent things from continuing or from even getting worse.”

The Biden administration is warning the United States could see 100 million coronavirus infections and a potentially significant wave of deaths this fall and winter, driven by new Omicron subvariants that have shown a remarkable ability to escape immunity. Officials say the looming threat underlines the need for the additional funding.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID coordinator, said Sunday on ABC-TV’s “This Week,” that without the funding, there would not be enough money for a new generation of vaccines this fall for all Americans, and “we’re going to run out of treatments, we’re going to run out of testing.”

“If Congress doesn’t step up” and appropriate funding, he said, “We will go into this fall and winter with none of the capabilities that we have developed over the last two years.”

Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.


Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.