Fauci bemoans ‘extreme’ divide that led to lopsided COVID-19 deaths

Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Patrick Semansky/AP

Fauci bemoans ‘extreme’ divide that led to lopsided COVID-19 deaths

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Dr. Anthony Fauci bemoaned the political divide in the country and faulted “extreme” politics for lopsided COVID-19 deaths.

Noting that he viewed some of the ideological rifts between Republicans and Democrats as a “healthy” part of the marketplace of ideas, Fauci, 81, conveyed that much of the extremes and bitterness gripping the political realm hamstrung the United States’s response to the pandemic.

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“Differences in ideology are healthy. It’s part of our democracy, part of what makes our country great. But when they get so extreme that it prevents you from doing something that’s life-saving, that is really awful,” Fauci told NBC News’s Lester Holt in an interview set to air Wednesday evening.

Fauci is poised to step down from his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden later this month. He has helmed NIAID since 1984. The doctor had also served on former President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 task force.

Having spent some 50 years working in government, Fauci oversaw much of the nation’s work to stamp down on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, as well as other outbreaks throughout the years. Long viewed as a bipartisan expert praised by presidents on both sides, he emerged as a polarizing figure during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Conservatives seethed at some of the pandemic suppression measures, such as lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine requirements, and blamed him for some of those policies. Fauci frequently vented that he was merely championing the science.

“The degree of divisiveness in this country right now has really led to such a polarization that it has interfered with an adequate science-based public health response,” Fauci added, per NBC.

A handful of studies concluded that COVID-19 deaths among Republican-leaning voters were lopsided relative to Democrats. For example, one study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found Republicans had 76% more excess deaths from the pandemic than Democrats.

“I mean, it’s just extraordinary that you have under-vaccination in red states and good levels of vaccination in blue states, which gets translated into a disproportionate amount of suffering and death among Republicans compared to Democrats,” Fauci continued. “That’s completely crazy.”

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Throughout his farewell press tour, Fauci has reflected upon his tenure and some of the hot-button issues of the pandemic, such as the origins of the virus — something in which he insists he keeps an “open mind.” He has also urged people to get the latest booster vaccine.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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