President Donald Trump with Dr. Anthony Fauci at the White House on May 15.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-disease expert, says taking “comfort” in the recent lower coronavirus death rate is a “false narrative” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and very bad about this virus,” Fauci said Tuesday. “Don’t get yourself into false complacency.”
Fauci, one of the health experts serving on the White House coronavirus task force, appeared on a livestreamed press conference about the coronavirus with Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump has focused on the lower death rate, claiming “99%” of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless” at a Fourth of July event in Washington, DC.
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The US’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says taking “comfort” in the recent drop in coronavirus deaths — which has been touted by President Donald Trump — promotes a “false narrative” about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fauci, one of the health experts serving on the White House coronavirus task force, appeared on a livestreamed press conference about the coronavirus with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama on Tuesday.
While the US has seen record-high surges in confirmed coronavirus cases in multiple states, the number of deaths have remained relatively flat amid the rise in cases.
Increased testing has detected mild COVID-19 cases, and younger people are making up a larger percentage of such cases. Evidence has shown that the coronavirus has been more fatal in older people and those with underlying conditions.
“The younger you are, the better you do and the less likely that you will get seriously ill and die,” Fauci said during the press conference, adding that the US had become “better at treating individuals particularly because we have a couple of therapies that work well in people with advanced disease.”
Jones said focusing on the total number of deaths did a “disservice” to representing the pandemic as a whole.
“As the percentage of deaths come down, that does not mean this virus is not still very, very serious,” Jones said. “That disrupts education, disrupts businesses, disrupts lives because it still is. It still will be deadly.”
“But I don’t want to get in a situation where we just come to accept a lower number of deaths as if this is a new normal,” he continued. “We’ve still got to do everything we can to get this virus snuffed out.”
Jones went on to mention that the US still had “a ways to go” on vaccines and reopening the economy “safely.”
“So just because deaths as a percentage of total cases may be coming down, that’s no reason at all to kind of let our foot off the gas when it comes to our social distancing, wearing masks, and trying to control this virus,” the senator added.
Fauci echoed Jones’ point, saying “it’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death.”
“There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and very bad about this virus,” the infectious-disease expert said. “Don’t get yourself into false complacency.”
The lower death rate was previously pushed by President Donald Trump, who claimed at a Fourth of July event in Washington, DC, that “99%” of coronavirus cases were “totally harmless.”
“Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless,” Trump said. “Results that no other country can show because no other country has the testing that we have, not in terms of the numbers or in terms of quality.”
While Fauci did not publicly comment on the contradiction between his statements and the views of the president, he said he thought “any politicization of anything that’s a public-health matter has negative consequences, and that’s the reason why we try as best as we can not to let political issues get involved.”
“Obviously today, it’s no secret to anybody who lives in the United States that we have a great deal of polarization in our country, unfortunately,” Fauci said during the press conference. “We hope that changes, but there’s no place for that when it comes to public-health recommendations, analysis of data, or any policies that are made, that will always be to our detriment to do that.”
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