Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, and National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci listen as President Donald J. Trump speaks with the coronavirus task force during a briefing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Friday, March 20, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said Sunday that polling data showing Trump voters would not get the COVID-19 vaccine was “disturbing.”
During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Fauci said he hoped that Trump would speak out and encourage his supporters to get the COVID-19 vaccine after all former living presidents, except for Trump, appeared last week in a PSA from the nonprofit Ad Council urging Americans to get the vaccination.
The Ad Council said the commercial was filmed during Biden’s inauguration, which Trump did not attend. Portions of the PSA featuring former President Jimmy Carter, who was unable to attend the inauguration, were filmed separately, according to Deadline.
Fauci, who frequently disagreed with Trump and his administration about the coronavirus pandemic, encouraged the former president to speak up in support of vaccinations.
“I hope he does because the numbers that you gave are so disturbing, how such a large proportion of a certain group of people would not want to make – would not want to get vaccinated merely because of political consideration,” Fauci told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd. “It makes absolutely no sense.”
Fauci made the comments after presented with data from a poll NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey published last week that found that vaccine hesitancy existed strongly among political lines. Nearly half of Republican men who were surveyed said they didn’t plan to get the vaccine as opposed to 6% of Democratic men who said they wouldn’t get the vaccine.
Among Trump voters, 47% of respondents said they didn’t plan to get the shot, while just 10% of people who supported Biden in the 2020 election said they wouldn’t get vaccinated for COVID-19, according to the poll.
Trump and the former first lady Melania Trump both got the vaccine before leaving the White House in January, and Trump last week issued a statement taking credit for the vaccines.
“I wasn’t president, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!” Trump said in a statement.
Fauci said Sunday that it was imperative to remove politics from public health. Issues from the vaccine to the wearing of face masks have over the past year served as major dividers between politicians and their followers on the right and left.
“We’ve got to dissociate political persuasion from what’s common sense, no-brainer public health things,” he continued. “The history of vaccinology has rescued us from smallpox, from polio, from measles, from all of the other diseases. What is the problem here?”
Fauci said at this point last year he knew the pandemic was going to be “bad” but said he was unaware of just how bad it would be.
The US death toll, which has surpassed 528,000, remains the highest in the world.
“Not only suffering health-wise and deaths and loss of loved ones, but what, what it has done to society, to the economy, and how it has kind of deepened some of the divisiveness that we’ve had in our, in our country to begin with. It’s just made it even more intense,” he said. “It’s just been a bad time all around.”
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