Donald Trump’s disdain for science is well known. A man who lies constantly doesn’t have much use for facts. And a man who makes things up on the spot doesn’t have much use for the process of carefully trying to find out what’s real. But the novel coronavirus pandemic has Trump believing that science isn’t just irrelevant—it’s out to get him.
A study of the outcome of using Trump’s beloved hydroxychloroquine on patients in Veterans Health Administration hospitals didn’t make the drug look so good as a COVID-19 treatment. Did Trump back off his promotion of it? Nope. It was “a Trump enemy statement,” he said. Another study found that tens of thousands of lives would have been saved had social distancing been put into place a week earlier. “A political hit job,” said Trump.
Trump started promoting hydroxychloroquine based on wildly insufficient studies with major methodological problems, but none of the evidence since has dented his belief in a drug he now claims to be taking himself. The study in veterans hospitals found “increased overall mortality” for people given hydroxychloroquine. Other studies have found no benefit.
But in Trumpworld: “If you look at the one survey, the only bad survey, they were giving it to people that were in very bad shape. They were very old, almost dead,” Trump said Tuesday. “It was a Trump enemy statement.”
Well, Trump’s going to have another target, because another new study finds a higher risk of death for patients on hydroxychloroquine.
Similarly, of the Columbia University study finding that a majority of COVID-19 infections and deaths could have been prevented if the government had moved faster to call for social distancing, Trump said: “Columbia’s an institution that’s very liberal […] I think it’s just a political hit job, you want to know the truth.”
Scientists are trying desperately to learn how the coronavirus works, how medicine can work against it, and how regular people can slow its spread while scientists develop vaccines and treatments. But now that Donald Trump’s ego is on the line, because studies looking at what’s going on with the coronavirus are, coincidentally, relevant to his response and his public claims, he’s not just dismissive of the science—he’s actively hostile to it. He is looking for ways to get his supporters to rage against the scientists and their results alike. He’s going to get more people killed—and as we can infer from these studies, he has already been responsible for quite a lot of death.