Dr. Anthony Fauci is taking the lion’s share of credit for the rapid development of vaccines to battle COVID-19, saying it was “the best decision that I’ve ever made.”
Fauci was interviewed for a CNN special that aired Sunday night, during which he praised himself without mentioning former President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, which is widely credited for the speedy development of vaccines.
“When I saw what happened in New York City, almost overrunning of our health care systems, and that’s when it became very clear that the decision we made on January 10 to go all-out and develop a vaccine, may have been the best decision that I’ve ever made with regard to intervention as the director of the institute,” he said in “COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out.”
The Moderna vaccine, the one Fauci himself took, was developed in conjunction with Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership that joined the federal government and pharmaceutical companies to create four vaccines in record time.
Trump this month said he deserves the credit for the quick development of vaccines.
“I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all,” read a statement from the former president. “I hope everyone remembers!”
But the CNN program also failed to credit Trump and Operation Warp Speed. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta overlooked the Trump initiative and credited Fauci instead.
“The life-saving and record-breaking vaccines that Dr. Fauci oversaw were a giant success for ‘The Doctors’ and for science and for the world,” Gupta said in a voiceover for the special.
Dr. Deborah Birx, who, like Fauci, repeatedly clashed with Trump, also appeared on the program, and she blamed the former president for the high death toll from COVID-19.
“I look at it this way. The first time we have an excuse,” Birx said of the first surge of cases and deaths last spring. “There were about a hundred thousand deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”
Birx also complained about a “very uncomfortable” phone call with Trump in August after she warned about the dangers of the virus. “‘It was a CNN report in August that got horrible pushback,” Brix said. “That was a very difficult time, because everybody in the White House was upset with that interview and the clarity that I brought about the epidemic,” she said.
“I got called by the president,” Birx said. “It was very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear.”
Birx led the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Task Force, but she retired after reports emerged that she had hosted three generations of her family for Thanksgiving 2020, even though she had told Americans to restrict such gatherings to “your immediate household.”