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President Biden's irresponsible rhetoric on COVID-19
Knowingly spreading false information for the purpose of fearmongering breaks trust and makes pandemic mitigation more difficult.
Note: This is an open letter to President Joe Biden.
I have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for 7 months. I appreciate the work done by your predecessor to get these drugs developed quickly, which have saved many lives. That is why I am so deeply disappointed to see that you are going out of your way to harm vaccination efforts by insulting and intentionally alienating people who have not been vaccinated. I want to address these two specific claims you made:
"We are looking at a winter of severe illness and death for the unvaccinated -- for themselves, their families and the hospitals they'll soon overwhelm." (Source: CNN.com, December 16, 2021)
President Biden, the statement is simply not true, and you know it. The risk of death or severe illness varies greatly by age and health. This has been extremely well-documented since the early days of the pandemic, and your own Centers for Disease control breaks down the death rate from COVID-19 by age. Furthermore, according to the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida, "35% of all COVID-19 cases never show symptoms." Your fearmongering, politically motivated rhetoric is anti-science.
If we are to effectively mitigate risks form this now endemic virus, and address inevitable future pandemics, then we need the American people to trust our public health experts and elected leaders. When you are knowingly spreading false information for the purpose of fearmongering, you break that trust and make pandemic mitigation much more difficult. President Biden, this is causing people to die.
“I know some Americans are wondering if you can safely celebrate the holidays with family and friends,” Biden said during a speech at the White House. “The answer is, yes you can, if you and those who celebrate with you are vaccinated.” (Source: Breitbart.com, December 21, 2021)
Mr. President, why are you denying the efficacy of the vaccines? It is true that the vaccines do not eliminate risk of infection with COVID-19. But the vaccines are still tremendously effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death. That is the entire point of getting vaccinated. The idea that vaccinated people need to be afraid of being around unvaccinated people feeds anti-vaccine sentiment. Why should anyone take a vaccine if they can only be "safe" around other vaccinated people? Furthermore, you know that vaccinated people do spread COVID-19 to each other, right?
President Biden, much has been said about the irresponsible rhetoric of elected officials and thought leaders denying the very real dangers of COVID-19. But dishonestly exaggerating the risks of this disease is every bit as irresponsible. It has damaged our economy and sowed distrust. These errors are mirror images of each other, and fearmongering is not better than COVID-19 denialism.
President Biden, your practice of repeatedly targeting of the unvaccinated for scorn is deeply divisive and unpresidential. You promised to represent a "return to normal" after four years of President Trump. You have repeatedly broken that promise, proving that you never intended to keep your promise in the first place. You cannot repair the promises you have broken, but you have three more years in the White House. It is not too late to change your behavior. It is not to late to least embrace professionalism, even if you cannot be presidential. Please take this opportunity to do better.