The head of infectious diseases in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is being targeted by the Trump administration as tensions between the health expert and the president increase.
The White House has increasingly criticized Dr. Fauci, and on Sunday, an official shared a list detailing the apparent erroneous comments from the past.
Dr. Fauci’s shifting advice on the masks and comments on the severity of Covid-19 are among the highlights of the White House.
The move to undermine it comes as the US continues to see waves in Covid-19.
There are more than 3.3 million confirmed cases and more than 135,000 deaths across the country, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Fauci has contradicted President Donald Trump’s comments on the pandemic several times, dismissing the president’s claims that the outbreak is improving and attributing the state’s hasty reopens to recent waves.
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The leaked White House memo over the weekend had noted that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong about things.”
Although the White House said that Dr. Fauci and Mr. Trump have a “good working relationship” on Monday, Trump adviser Peter Navarro told CBS News: “When asked if I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice, my answer is only with caution. ”
What did the White House say?
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Monday that the memo was a “direct response to a direct question” from the Washington Post.
“The idea that there are opposition investigations and that there is Fauci against the president could not be further from the truth,” he said. “Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship.”
Echoing the content of the previous memo, Navarro, a Trump financial adviser, said Dr. Fauci “has been wrong about everything that I have interacted with.”
“When I warned in late January in a memorandum of a possibly deadly pandemic, Fauci was telling the media not to worry,” he said.
Navarro said Dr. Fauci fought Trump’s “brave decision” to stop flights from China, initially saying the virus was “low risk”, “flip-flops with the use of masks” and said there was only anecdotal evidence “hydroxychloroquine as treatment.
“Now Fauci says that a declining death rate doesn’t matter when it’s the most important statistic to help guide the pace of our economic reopening.”
Admiral Brett Giroir, the U.S. undersecretary of health and member of the virus task force, told NBC News Sunday that while he respects Dr. Fauci, he is not always right.
“Dr. Fauci is not 100% right, nor does he necessarily admit, he has all of the national interest in mind. He looks at it from a very limited public health point of view.”
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Trump on Monday retweeted comments from a host of a gaming program accusing “everyone”, including the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), of lying about the coronavirus.
Last week, the president told Fox News that Dr. Fauci was “a good man but he made many mistakes.”
As cases and deaths continue to rise in various states, Trump has been accused by critics of politicizing health problems, including wearing masks.
Trump also clashed with the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing the body of mismanaging the pandemic when it started and failing to make “much-needed reforms.”
On July 7, he formally began removing the United States from WHO and said the funds would be redirected.
A White House at war with its own experts.
Donald Trump often criticized newspapers that publish anonymous quotes from administration aides who criticize the president. However, over the weekend, the White House was using its own unidentified “officials” in a notable attack on a member of its coronavirus special force, chief infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci.
The White House even provided a list of Fauci’s old statements about the virus, similar to the type of memo that a campaign could use to direct negative attention to a political opponent. The administration appears to be trying to paint Fauci as wrong about the early threat from the virus and is therefore unreliable when he questions the administration’s current analysis of the current situation and its planned actions.
As if that wasn’t enough, on Monday morning the president retweeted a post by former game show host Chuck Woolery, accusing the Centers for Disease Control, among others, of lying about the virus in an effort to undermine Trump’s reelection prospects. .
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 trust and will follow, a challenge, to say the least.
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What did Fauci say?
Dr. Fauci has not intervened in the White House note, but has commented on his recent lack of television appearances.
“I have a reputation, as you probably have discovered, to tell the truth at all times and not to cover sugar,” he told the Financial Times on July 10. “And that may be one of the reasons I haven’t been on television much lately.”
Dr. Fauci also said that he had not seen Trump in person since June 2 and had not reported him in the past two months.
The chief of infectious diseases has been appearing on live streams 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’re doing it right. I mean, we just aren’t.”
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Dr. Fauci will participate in a live broadcast with Stanford University School of Medicine on 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 regarding the pandemic, and only 26% expressed confidence in Trump.
But there were sharp divisions along the party lines, with 66% of Republicans trusting Trump and 51% expressing confidence in Dr. Fauci. Only 4% of Democrats said they trusted Trump, compared to 81% by Dr. Fauci.
Medical scientists overall remained the most reliable in all voting groups, with 84% saying they provided accurate information.
A study by the Pew Research Center in May found similar results, showing increasing public confidence in health experts among Democrats but not Republicans.
The Association of American Medical Colleges issued a statement Monday in support of Dr. Fauci, saying that taking his quotes “out of context to discredit his scientific knowledge and judgment will do tremendous harm to our nation’s efforts to control the virus, restore our economy and returns us to a more normal way of life. “
Was Fauci wrong?
In February, Dr. Fauci did not advise Americans to change their behavior due to the pandemic, but he did notice that the situation was evolving.
During an interview with the Today show on the morning of February 29, Dr. Fauci said: “Although the risk is low now, you don’t need to change anything of what you are doing, when you start to see the spread of the community, this it 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 that the public not wear masks. At that time, he noted that infected people should use one to prevent the spread of the disease.
Dr. Fauci has defended his previous comments on the masks, citing new research and saying it was due to concerns about the shortage at the time for healthcare providers.
Since then, he has strongly recommended wearing face covers in public.
As a career official, Dr. Fauci has advised six Presidents, Republicans and Democrats, on health issues, including the HIV / AIDS epidemic.
He has been director of the Allergy and Infectious Diseases division of the National Institute of Health since 1984.