An “unprecedented politicization” of science in America over the last five years has resulted in “tens of thousands” of needless deaths in the nation, an infectious disease specialist has warned.
Dangerous attacks on the health measures of masks and social distancing as an affront to “freedom” and suspicions about vaccinations has been fueled by “an active and unabashed anti-science disinformation initiative by the White House,” and “the president himself,” wrote Dr. Peter Hotez in in the journal PLOS Biology in an essay Thursday. That disinformation included “dismissing the severity of the virus and hyping treatments beyond their effectiveness,” noted Hotez.
An “anti-science disinformation campaign” has also been peddled by Russia, as well as by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in a “medical populism,” wrote Hotez.
The attacks on science are making the COVID-19 pandemic worse than it would otherwise be, noted Hotez, who is the dean for the National School for Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.
Continued disinformation and support for shunning masks could trigger a further “mass casualty event” in the U.S, he warned.
The United States “witnessed an unprecedented politicization of biomedical science starting in 2015 that has exploded into a complex, multimodal anti-science empire operating through mass media, political elections, legislation, and even health systems,” Hotez warned.
“Anti-science activities now pervade the daily lives of many Americans, and threaten to infect other parts of the world. We can attribute the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans from COVID-19, measles, and other vaccine-preventable diseases to anti-science.”
Although Donald Trump “did not win reelection and the new Biden administration has vowed to mount an evidence-based pandemic strategy, the anti-science pursuits of the Trump White House and Coronavirus Task Force” have already “caused serious harm,” he wrote.
Hotez suggested that the US may have to remove anti-science content and organizations from social media to save lives. He urged the U.S. to create an interagency government task force to address the problem.
Check out Hotez’s entire essay here.