Home World 200,000 dead as Trump vilifies science, prioritizes politics – Times of India

200,000 dead as Trump vilifies science, prioritizes politics – Times of India


NEW YORK: With the nation’s Covid-19 death toll at 200,000, President Donald Trump is engaged in an ongoing war against his administration’s own scientists.
Over the past six months, the Trump administration has prioritized politics over science at key moments, refusing to follow expert advice that might have contained the spread of the novel coronavirus and the disease, Covid-19, it causes.
Trump and his people have routinely dismissed experts’ assessments of the gravity of the pandemic, and of the measures needed to bring it under control. They have tried to muzzle scientists who dispute the administration’s rosy spin.
Just last week, Trump described Dr. Robert Redfield, a virologist and head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as “confused” because he said a vaccine was not likely to be widely available to the general public until summer or fall of 2021.
Trump, without evidence, said it could be ready before the election.
While there is no indication that Trump’s desperation for a vaccine has affected the science or safety of the process, his insistence that one would be ready before the election is stoking mistrust in the very breakthrough he hopes will help his reelection.
The Trump vs. science dynamic has been evident from the very beginning.
In late January, after the virus had first emerged in Wuhan, China, the CDC launched its emergency operations center. What was needed, epidemiologists said, was aggressive public education and contact tracing to identify and isolate the first cases before the disease spread got out of control.
Instead, Trump publicly played down the virus in those crucial first weeks, even though he privately acknowledged the seriousness of the threat.
“I wanted to always play it down,” the president told journalist Bob Woodward in March.
By mid-March, hospitals in New York and elsewhere were deluged with patients and storing bodies in refrigerated trucks.
On March 31, the nation was still grappling to understand the scope of the pandemic.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stood next to the president to explain jaw-dropping death projections.
The doctors said unless the country adopted masks, practiced distancing and kept businesses closed there would be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths. They stressed that if the U.S. adopted strict measures, the deaths could remain under 100,000.
“We would hope that we could keep it under that,” Trump said then.
Still, instead of issuing a national mask mandate, the Trump administration within weeks posted its “Opening Up America Again” plan.
The CDC began developing a thick document of guidelines to help decision-making about reopening. But the White House thought the guidelines too strict. They “would never see the light of day,” CDC scientists were told.

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