Politicization of COVID-19 response in U.S. 'really unfortunate': official

2021-08-16 11:47:11Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Special: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus

Politics, polarization and misinformation are wrecking the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Sunday.

"It's really unfortunate that politics and polarization have gotten in the way of a simple public health measure. This mask that I'm holding has somehow become a symbol that it never should have been. This is basically just a life-saving medical device," Dr. Francis Collins, director of NIH, told the "Fox News Sunday".

"And somehow it's now being seen as an invasion of your personal liberty. We never should have gone there. It's heartbreaking for me as a person who's not a politician, I'm a scientist, I'm a public health person. I'm a doctor to see how masks have gotten into this very strange place with parents and others shouting about it. We never should allow that to happen," he said when asked about the ongoing debate on mask mandates in the country among politicians, teachers, parents and school boards.

"Already you can see in this country, the schools that have started to open without mask requirements outbreaks are happening. And what happens then the kids are sent home for virtual learning, which was what we were trying to avoid," said Collins.

He warned U.S. COVID-19 cases could break 200,000 a day as the latest surge of the virus driven by the Delta variant is "going very steeply upward with no signs of having peaked out."

Collins lamented that "the most advanced technological society on the planet has somehow slipped into a space where the evidence and the basis for making decisions on facts has gotten pushed aside by politics, by social media conspiracies, and by this incredible depth of anger and grievance, that seems to be held by so many."

"Our future as a nation has got to revolve around coming away from that kind of approach to everything... If I have one thing I'm worried about, it's not just the epidemic of COVID-19, it's the epidemic of misinformation, disinformation, distrust that is tearing us apart," he said.

As of Sunday, the United States reported over 36.6 million infections of COVID-19, with more than 621,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.


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