If a coronavirus vaccine were available today, half of all Americans wouldn’t get it because of a lack of trust, former US Surgeon Gen. Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Monday.
One of the most important assets government should have in a pandemic response is public trust, and it must be cultivated at all costs, Murthy said.
“Otherwise, when you need the public to follow guidance, they won't trust you enough to listen and that's actually the situation we may find ourselves in when it comes to vaccines, because already surveys are showing us nearly half of people are not inclined to take a Covid-19 vaccine, even if it was available today,” he said.
“That’s a shocking number and deeply concerning.”
President Trump has spent the past few months telling his supporters not to wear masks and questioning scientists and public health officials’ guidance on reopening the country.
“We know that distributing vaccines is going to be hard enough and if people aren't willing to take it because we haven't built enough public trust, that’s going to seriously impair our ability to build herd immunity,” Murthy said.
The former US surgeon general said leaders have to tell the truth, especially when mistakes are made, they need to lead with science and scientists, and communicate frequently and consistently.
Murthy said resumption of the White House coronavirus task force briefings might help improve trust. “That could really help the cause, because the truth is that how you communicate determines whether you build or destroy public trust,” Murthy said.
Trump ended the daily White House coronavirus briefings several months ago, but announced Monday he’s resuming them.