This is just sad. What is wrong with you, America?
Whereas the U.S. response to the crisis has at times appeared disconnected from American scientists’ publicly available findings, U.S. researchers’ conclusions informed the actions of foreign governments.
“A large portion of [Germany’s] measures that proved effective was based on studies by leading U.S. research institutes,” said Karl Lauterbach, a Harvard-educated epidemiologist who is a member of the German parliament for the Social Democrats, who are part of the coalition government. Lauterbach advised the German parliament and the government during the pandemic.
Despite its far older population, Germany has confirmed fewer than 9,000 coronavirus-linked deaths, compared with almost 120,000 in the United States. (Germany has about one-fourth of the United States’ population.)
Lauterbach cited in particular the work of Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, whose research with colleagues recently said that forms of social distancing may have to remain in place into 2022. Lipsitch’s work, Lauterbach said, helped him to convince German Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz that the pandemic will be “the new normal” for the time being, and it impacted German officials’ thinking on how long their strategy should be in place.
Regarding the effectiveness of face masks, Lauterbach added, “we almost entirely relied on U.S. studies.” Germany was among the first major European countries to make face masks mandatory on public transport and in supermarkets.
Lipsitch said Thursday that he was not previously aware of the impact of his research on German decision-making, but he added that he has spoken to representatives of several other foreign governments in recent weeks, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and officials or advisers from Canada, New Zealand and South Korea.
Even though Lipsitch cautioned it was impossible for him to say how or if his conversations influenced foreign governments’ thinking, he credited the overall European response as “science-based and a sincere effort to find out what experts in the field believe is a range of possible scenarios and consequences of decisions.”
Lipsitch said he presented some of his research to a White House group in the early stages of the U.S. outbreak but said the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic did not reflect his conclusions. “I think they have cherry-picked models that at each point looked the most rosy, and fundamentally not engaged with the magnitude of the problem,” he said
“One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are – for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable – they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said.