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Trust in Fauci and U.S. Health Agencies Resilient in a New Study

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Trust in health agencies and Fauci remains strong, a poll finds, but personal doctors score higher.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, addresses a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

By Nadav Gavrielov

July 21, 2021, 10:02 p.m. ET

Trust in the U.S. federal health agencies responding to the coronavirus pandemic remains strong among a significant sector of the American public, according to a new survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, but Americans place their deepest faith closer to home.

In a telephone poll of 1,719 adults, 76 percent reported being somewhat or very confident in the trustworthiness of information about Covid-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 77 percent expressed the same confidence about the Food and Drug Administration. Both results, from a survey conducted from June 2 to 22, were largely unchanged from an April poll.

Respondents’ highest confidence, at 83 percent, was reserved for their primary health care provider. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

The agencies have been the targets of frequent criticism over their responses to the pandemic on an evolving variety of frequently politicized topics including testing guidelines, testing accessibility, vaccines, masks, school safety and more.

The survey also found that 68 percent of participants believed that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s foremost infectious disease specialist, provided trustworthy advice on the pandemic. Dr. Fauci has come under repeated attack from conservative media figures like Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

In the survey, respondents who relied on conservative media were found to have a lower level of confidence in the health agencies and Dr. Fauci. Only 38 percent of consumers of what the survey called “very conservative media,” for instance, said they had confidence in Dr. Fauci, compared with 84 percent of consumers of “broadcast-newspaper mainstream” media.

The data comes as the U.S. vaccination rate stagnates and the country struggles with a rising number of cases, particularly in states with fewer vaccinated residents, while at the same time the highly infectious Delta variant is spreading.

The survey also found that confidence remained high in the safety and efficacy of vaccines, with 78 percent of respondents believing “definitely or probably” that they were effective in preventing Covid-19.

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