‘Considerable degree of divisiveness’ slowed down US Covid-19 response: Anthony Fauci
Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said on Monday a “considerable degree of divisiveness” in the country played a role in slowing down the response to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases highlighted the politicisation of Covid-19 measures, such as wearing face masks and following social distancing norms.
“Unfortunately, this year, I think it’s no secret to anyone following what’s going on that there is a considerable degree of divisiveness in this country,” Fauci told BBC Radio 4 in a programme aired on Monday.
During the initial days of the coronavirus outbreak, US President Donald Trump was reluctant to wear a mask and held events where attendees were seen flouting social distancing measures. In April, Trump called people protesting against their governors’ social distancing measures as “great people”. Fauci had then stated that the virus has nothing to do with the economics, adding that it is important to get it under control before the gradual reopening of businesses.
“What we see is somewhat of a politicisation, where...things like the wearing of masks become a political statement, where...keeping away from crowds becomes a political statement, that has made it very problematic as we’ve dealt with this unprecedented and historic outbreak,” he said.
The 80-year-old immunologist pointed out that the disparity among states over the measures has also been a major weakness in the Covid-19 response. He said that pandemic doesn’t know the difference between state borders and a degree of consistency is required in the government’s response.
“There have been a lot of factors that have led to the fact that unfortunately for us, the United States has been the hardest-hit country in the world, but I believe that disparity among how states do things has been a major weakness in our response,” he added.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre tally, the United States has reported over 19 million Covid-19 cases and more than 333,000 related deaths so far. While the US has rolled out two vaccines to provide immunity against the infection, the current projections by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) suggest that around 193,000 people could lose their lives over the next two months.
Uyghurs have urged UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to avoid falling victim to a public relations stunt as her trip to China enters a delicate new phase on Tuesday with a visit to the remote Xinjiang region. The ruling Communist Party is accused of detaining over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region as part of a years-long security crackdown the United States has labelled a "genocide".
The bodies of 14 people have washed up on a beach in Myanmar, police told AFP on Monday, with the UN Refugee Agency citing reports that the deceased include Rohingya children. "Fourteen dead bodies were found, and 35 people including the boat owners were rescued alive," said a police spokesperson in Pathein district, Lieutenant Colonel Tun Shwe, around 200 kilometres (124 miles) west of Yangon.
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The United States is preparing to give monkeypox vaccines to close contacts of people infected and to deploy treatments, with five cases now either confirmed or probable and the number likely to rise, officials said Monday. All those infected so far in the United States have been men who had a relevant travel history. It also has around 100 million doses of an older generation vaccine, ACAM2000.
A captured Russian soldier who pleaded guilty to killing a civilian was sentenced by a Ukrainian court Monday to life in prison — the maximum — amid signs the Kremlin may, in turn, put on trial some of the fighters who surrendered at Mariupol's steelworks. Cities not under Russian control were constantly shelled, and one Ukrainian official said Russian forces targeted civilians trying to flee. Ukrainian prosecutors are investigating thousands of potential war crimes.