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Doctors in Ireland ‘should not hesitate’ to challenge misinformation – Dr Fauci

By David Lynch - 12th May 2024

Misinformation

Doctors in Ireland should not “hesitate” to openly communicate the benefits of vaccination on the basis of “facts, data, and evidence”, former Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci, has told the Medical Independent (MI).

Dr Fauci visited Dublin in April where he received the Stearne Medal from the RCPI for “outstanding contribution to public health”.

At the event, MI asked Dr Fauci about the advice he would give to Irish doctors in terms of challenging anti-vaccination viewpoints.

In response, Dr Fauci said: “I think the younger doctors and physicians as they get involved in their field, they should feel more comfortable in the dissemination of correct information. Because there is so much energy out there spreading incorrect information.”

In relation to the rise in anti-vaccination sentiment online and in-person, he added: “So my observation for younger [doctors] is don’t hesitate to openly communicate about facts, data and evidence.”

“That is what our discipline is based on; science is a mechanism to gather information, data, and facts.”

Asked about how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the specialty of public health, Dr Fauci said: “In the beginning of the outbreak, when it became so clear how public health was important… there was a major influx of people who wanted to get involved in public health.”

However, Dr Fauci added that four years after the emergence of Covid-19, many public health officials in the US are now “extensively threatened because we are saying things that should be done for the public health”. 

Despite these concerns, Dr Fauci struck a positive note for public health.

“I think at the end of the day, the net effect [of the pandemic], will be that more people will want to come into public health, so the net effect is going to be positive.”

Dr Fauci joined only seven people who have been awarded the RCPI Stearne Medal since it was established in 1979.

“Dr Fauci, who became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in a virtual ceremony in 2021 during the pandemic, is a role model for physicians worldwide,” said RCPI President Dr Diarmuid O’Shea as he presented the medal to Dr Fauci.

“His work is contained in the textbooks that millions of medical students study and he is one of the most cited scientific researchers in the world.”

Dr O’Shea added that Dr Fauci’s “tireless efforts” in advancing the frontiers of medical science “have saved millions of lives”.

He stated that “his courage, leadership, and passionate advocacy for science will continue to inspire generations of healthcare professionals”.

“In an era marked by rampant misinformation and scepticism, his steadfast advocacy for evidence-based practices has been instrumental in shaping public health policies and safeguarding lives.” See news feature, p4-5.

Pictured at the 2024 Medical Professionalism Conference hosted by RCSI are from L-to-R: Prof Denis Harkin, Chair of Medical Professionalism, RCSI; Prof Hannah McGee, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, RCSI; Sir Robert Francis, KC, British barrister specialising in medical law; and Dr Ravi Jayaram, who was among those who raised concerns about former neonatal nurse Lucy Letby.

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