Dr. Leana Wen, a physician, CNN medical analyst and Washington Post contributing columnist who once promoted pandemic lockdowns is now admitting that the slogan promoting medical compliance, “follow the science,” actually “fuels distrust” toward the scientific and medical community.
Wen made the claim in a Washington Post column Tuesday, noting that though there is appropriate power to the “follow the science” mantra, solely relying on it to promote and ensure public health policies doesn’t work to foster trust and compliance among the public.
Wen has become a controversial figure in recent months as a medical official finally exploring skepticism to the sweeping COVID-19 protocols put in place in 2020.
Recently, she turned heads by presenting research showing that some U.S. medical institutions have been “overcounting” the number of people who have died from COVID-19.
Now she is taking aim at the ubiquitous authoritative mantra many physicians, media members, and politicians used to get the public on board with coronavirus mandates.
Her column opened with that centerpiece of mandate rhetoric, and even noted how it was bandied around for political leverage.
She wrote, “’Follow the science.’ That has become a mantra in public health policy. Health officials and politicians — including President Biden — invoke it to justify their decisions. Social media partisans hurl it back and forth to bolster their arguments.”
She began to undermine it, saying, “The slogan has power because of course science matters, and of course we should follow it. But solely relying on science to guide public health decisions misses the complexity of policy deliberations.”
Wen then declared, “The tragic paradox is that it fuels distrust in the scientific community and undermines the credibility of health officials.”
Bolstering her claim, the doctor provided stats showing just how low trust in the science has dropped in the wake of the pandemic. She wrote, “A Pew Research Center survey last year found that only 29 percent of adults say they have a great deal of confidence in medical scientists to act in the best interest of the public, down from 40 percent in November 2020.”
Additionally, she cited an NBC News polls, saying it “similarly found that trust in the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention fell from 69 percent at the beginning of the pandemic to just 44 percent by early 2022.”
Wen added, “I’m not here to blame that decline on ‘follow the science.’ My concern is different. I’m worried about the way that we lose people’s trust when we oversimplify the trade-offs and uncertainty of complicated public health policy.”
The doctor recalled how she herself was disparaged as an authority on COVID-19 mandates, saying, “When I supported lockdowns in March 2020, I was called a fearmonger bent on taking away people’s livelihoods. When I promoted vaccines, anti-vaccine advocates accused me of ‘mass murder’ for pushing ‘experimental’ injections on people.”
She also claimed that when she “wrote columns agreeing with Biden administration decisions to ease covid mitigation measures, more than 600 people signed a petition labeling me a racist and ableist who promoted eugenics.” Essentially, she received backlash from different sides depending on the stance she took.
This prompted her to admit, “Clearly, public health needs a reset. But what kind? The answer, I’m convinced, isn’t to diminish the role of science but to make clear the role of values alongside it.”
The doctor criticized the idea that spreaders of misinformation primarily eroded the public trust, and put the blame on the experts too, saying, “but many well-intentioned medical professionals, scientists and political leaders are also at fault.”
Wen then offered her idea for restoring trust, saying it requires “that we curb the instinct to simplify public health policy. Decisions often require policymakers to weigh competing priorities and painful tradeoffs. They should own the challenge and not shy away from communicating nuance and complexity.”
She added that health officials “didn’t acknowledge” the nuances, like that fact natural immunity of those who once had COVID-19 kept them safe from the virus. She wrote, “Instead, any expert who even brought up studies supporting natural immunity, myself included, were accused of spreading disinformation.”
Wen then claimed, “The public health community must do better. We should display more humility and acknowledge what we don’t know.”
Reporting from Fox News.