As deaths from the Coronavirus strain COVID-19 mount, the American Medical Association is calling on elected officials to set aside political ideologies and focus on science and data in the escalating fight against the deadly virus.
Without mentioning any elected officials or political parties by name, a speech by AMA president President Dr. Patrice A. Harris distributed to healthcare reporters Tuesday morning called on “all elected officials to affirm science, evidence and fact in their words and actions.”
The speech comes as President Donald Trump is being criticized for touting the benefits of a drug used in the past to treat malaria as a possible treatment against COVID-19. Health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, have urged caution saying clinical trials, more data and study are needed to figure out the safety of the drug hydroxychloroquine.
“We call for determinations about the safety and efficacy of drugs to be made by scientists and researchers, based on data,” Harris said in a speech delivered via livestream through the National Press Club.
“It is science, research and evidence, and not wishful thinking or ideology, that gives us hope as we face uncertainties around the pandemic,” Harris said. “It is science that will bring about proven treatments for COVID-19. It is science that will bring about a vaccine.”
The AMA is the nation’s largest doctor group with more than 200,000 physician members and has considerable clout in Washington and via its state, local and specialty medical societies. Harris’ speech comes as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. hurtled past 370,000 Tuesday and the death toll eclipsed 11,000, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
“In truth, the nation needs more – much more – from our leaders,” Harris said. “The public is already making incredible sacrifices by acting on the evidence. All of us need to trust that our institutions are also keeping science at the fore of their decision-making.”
Some public health officials have worried that high-ranking physicians like Fauci could be muzzled or encouraged not to speak out during the pandemic. In that regard, the AMA president called on the “government’s scientific institutions, now and in the future, to be led by experts protected from political influence.”
“We call for an environment in which physicians, scientists and other experts are free to communicate evidence-based, factual information,” Harris said.
But it’s not just hopes and the lack of science-backed information from the White House. The AMA is working to dispel other false claims. Dr. Harris said some of these false claims include:
* “African Americans are less likely to get COVID-19 – that is false.”
* “Coronavirus is a new way to force vaccinations on people who don’t want them – also false.”
* “Children cannot contract COVID-19 – false.”
The AMA’s Harris said “tech platforms” need to work “to advance evidence-based information from credible sources and reduce the spread of misinformation.”
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