Eighty-one Nobel Prize winners endorsed Joe Biden for president in an open letter on Wednesday, citing the former vice president’s “willingness to listen to experts” and his “deep appreciation for using science to find solutions.”
The Nobel laureates, winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Medicine and Physics, stressed the importance of elected leaders making decisions based on science, particularly during a global pandemic.
“At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” the letter reads. “During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.”
The person who organized all of the laureates to endorse Biden is Illinois Democratic Rep. Bill Foster, who is the sole physicist on Capitol Hill, according to a person close to the Nobel Laureate group.
More than 180,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, and more than 6 million people in the US have been infected with the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. Trump has been heavily criticized for his administration’s response to the pandemic, with critics saying his administration has been too slow to respond to the virus and it hasn’t done enough to protect Americans.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans say the US response to the coronavirus outbreak makes them feel embarrassed, according to a recent CNN Poll conducted by SSRS. Sixty-two percent of the public says Trump could be doing more to fight the outbreak, and disapproval of Trump’s handling of the outbreak reached a new high of 58% in the poll.
Biden, who has issued blistering criticism of Trump’s coronavirus response, called on Trump to “stop talking and start listening to the medical experts,” in a March interview with CNN.
“In the past, Joe Biden has shown a deep appreciation for using science to find solutions to America’s ailments,” said Harold Varmus, who has served as director of the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute and received the 1989 Nobel Prize in medicine. “His sensible, determined approach to building a cancer research initiative after his son’s death was inspiring. It illustrates the kind of thoughtful leadership that we need to tackle the current global pandemic.”
“The multiple crises facing our country, including one of misinformation, requires a leader with profound admiration for science and truth,” said Roger Kornberg, the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in chemistry. “I support Joe Biden’s pro-science agenda and sensible approach to public health decisions. A true leader who will face the truth and be honest with the American people.”
The endorsement from the Nobel laureates comes on the heels of a Washington Post report that one of Trump’s top medical advisers was urging the White House to embrace a controversial “herd immunity” strategy to combat the pandemic. The approach would mean that many people nationwide would have to get sick with the coronavirus in order to build up a natural immunity across communities, and many could die in the process. White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Scott Atlas explicitly denied that he is pushing a “herd immunity” strategy, but an administration official told CNN all of the policies Atlas has pushed for are in the vein of a “herd immunity” strategy.
“Now more than ever, our country needs elected leaders who make decisions based on science,” said Elizabeth Blackburn, the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine. “Joe Biden is the strong, compassionate leader we need to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. He’ll listen to the scientific and medical community to create solutions that will finally get us out of this deadly pandemic and improve the health of the American people.”
Carol Greider, the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine, said, “Our elected leaders should be making decisions based on facts and science. I strongly endorse Joe Biden because of his commitment to putting public health professionals, not politicians, back in charge.”
“I support Joe Biden because of his long record of making policy, informed by science, to deal with large, complicated issues like cancer, climate change and nuclear proliferation,” said Barry Barish, the 2017 Nobel Prize winner in physics. “More immediately, we absolutely must elect Joe with his science-based approach to successfully lead us out of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Biden’s plan to address the coronavirus pandemic includes offering free testing to all Americans. It calls for hiring 100,000 people to form a national contact-tracing, and increasing drive-through testing sites. He is also urging Trump to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies and other items. Biden has said he would mandate that everyone wear a mask in public if necessary, and on August 13 called for governors to implement mask mandates for the next three months.
His plan includes steps designed to help businesses and schools reopen, including financial support for retaining and rehiring workers, building a best-practices clearinghouse for schools and guaranteeing paid leave for anyone with coronavirus or who is caring for someone with the virus. The former vice president also said he would call Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, shortly after being declared the winner of the general election to ask him to remain a member of the White House coronavirus task force.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.