The U.S. chief of infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is targeted by the Trump administration as tensions mount between the health expert and the president.
The White House has increasingly criticized Dr. Fauci, and an official on Sunday shared a list detailing apparent false comments from the past.
Dr. Fauci’s changing advice on masks and remarks on the severity of Covid-19 are among the highlights of the White House.
The decision to thwart it comes as the U.S. continues to see surges at Covid-19.
There are more than 3.3 million confirmed cases and more than 135,000 deaths in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Dr Fauci has repeatedly contradicted President Donald Trump’s comments on the pandemic, rejecting the President’s claims that the epidemic is improving and attributing hasty state reopenings to recent outbreaks.
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The White House memo leaked this weekend noted that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong.”
White House adviser Peter Navarro told CBS News on Monday: “When you ask me if I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice, my answer is only cautious. “
What did the White House say?
Echoing the contents of the memo, Mr. Navarro, an economic adviser to Mr. Trump, said that Dr. Fauci “was wrong about everything I have ever interacted with him about.”
“When I warned in a memo in late January about a potentially deadly pandemic, Fauci told the media not to worry,” he said.
Navarro said Dr. Fauci had fought against Trump’s “courageous decision” to stop flights from China, first said the virus was “low risk”, “stolen on the use of masks “and stated that there was” only anecdotal evidence “regarding hydroxychloroquine as a treatment.
“Now, Fauci says that a declining death rate doesn’t matter when it comes to the most important statistic to guide the pace of our economic reopening. “
Admiral Brett Giroir, US deputy health secretary and member of the virus task force, told NBC News on Sunday that while he respects Dr. Fauci, he is not always right.
“Dr. Fauci is not 100% right and he does not necessarily have, he admits, all of the national interest in mind. He considers it from a very narrow point of view of public health. “
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Trump retweeted comments from a game show host on Monday accusing “everyone,” including the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), of lying about the coronavirus.
Last week, the president told Fox News that Dr. Fauci was “a nice man but he made a lot of mistakes.”
As cases and deaths continue to rise in a number of states, Trump has been accused by critics of politicizing health problems, including wearing masks.
Trump also opposed the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing the body of mismanaging the pandemic when it started and of “not making much-needed reforms.”
On July 7, he officially began withdrawing the United States from WHO and said funding would be redirected.
A White House at war with its own experts
Donald Trump has often denounced the newspapers which publish anonymous quotes from administrative assistants criticizing the president. Over the weekend, however, the White House used its own unnamed “officials” in a remarkable attack against a member of its coronavirus task force, lead infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci.
The White House even provided a list of Fauci’s previous statements about the virus, similar to the type of memo a campaign could use to direct negative attention to a political opponent. The administration, it seems, is trying to describe Fauci as a mistake about the early threat of the virus and, therefore, untrustworthy when it questions the administration’s current analysis of the situation current and its planned actions.
As if that were not enough, Monday morning, the president retweeted a message from former game show host Chuck Woolery, accusing the Centers for Disease Control, among other things, of lying about the virus in order to undermine the prospects for re-election of Trump.
An administration at war with its own scientific and medical experts in the midst of a pandemic that is once again on the rise makes developing a coherent strategy – one that the public trusts and will follow – to say the least difficult.
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What did Fauci say?
Dr. Fauci did not weigh in on the White House memo, but noted his recent lack of television appearances.
“I have a reputation, as you probably understand, for telling the truth at all times and not for doing things,” he told the Financial Times on July 10. “And that may be one of the reasons why I haven’t been on TV a lot lately. ”
Dr. Fauci also said that he had not seen Mr. Trump in person since June 2 and that he had not informed him for two months.
Rather, the chief infectious disease has appeared on live broadcasts and podcasts.
On July 9, he told FiveThirtyEight, “As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say that we are doing very well. I mean, we just aren’t. “
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Dr. Fauci will participate in a livestream with Stanford University Medical School Monday afternoon local time.
What does the public think?
A New York Times / Siena College poll in late June found that 67% of American voters trusted Dr. Fauci with the pandemic, with only 26% expressing confidence in Mr. Trump.
But there were marked divisions by party, with 66% of Republicans trusting Mr. Trump and 51% expressing confidence in Dr. Fauci. Only 4% of Democrats said they trust Mr. Trump, compared to 81% for Dr. Fauci.
Specialist physicians in general remained the most reliable among all voter groups, with 84% of them claiming to have provided accurate information.
A Pew Research Center study in May found similar results, showing growing public confidence in health experts among Democrats but not Republicans.
The Association of American Medical Colleges released a statement in support of Dr. Fauci on Monday, saying that taking his quotes “out of context to discredit his scientific knowledge and judgment will do great harm to our nation’s efforts to contain the virus.” , restore our economy and bring us back to a more normal lifestyle. “
Was Fauci wrong?
In February, Dr. Fauci did not advise Americans to change their behavior because of the pandemic, but noted that the situation was changing.
In an interview with Today Morning on February 29, Dr. Fauci said, “Although the risk is low now, you don’t need to change anything you do when you start to see the community spread, that could change. ”
At the time, there were fewer than 100 cases in the United States.
In early March, Dr. Fauci and other health officials advised the public not to wear masks. He noted at the time that infected people should wear one to avoid spreading the disease.
Dr. Fauci defended his earlier comments on the masks, citing new research and saying it was due to concerns about the shortage at the time for health care providers.
He has since strongly recommended wearing face covers in public.
A career civil servant, Dr. Fauci has advised six presidents – Republican and Democratic – on health issues, including the HIV / AIDS epidemic.
He has been director of the National Institutes of Health Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.