News and Commentary

Dr. Anthony Fauci: ‘Misinformation Right From The Beginning’ Increased Coronavirus Spread

   DailyWire.com
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - MARCH 09, 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks at the Coronavirus Task Force Press Conference.
Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, implied during a Fox News interview on Saturday that the Chinese Communist Party’s lies about the coronavirus increased the outbreak worldwide.

“So let’s just start in January or February,” Fox News host Jesse Watters said. “When was the first time that you realized that this was a major problem? Because I remember, in late January, you were telling people, early February, this was nothing to be concerned for most Americans, Americans, for the most part, were not at risk.”

“It was in January at a time when the Chinese were saying, first, that it was only going from an animal to a human, and then when there were human cases that looked like they were transmitted, that it was very inefficiently transmitted,” Fauci responded. “It was at that time in, I believe, mid-January, that we made the statement that if in fact that’s true, that this is mostly animal to human, and we’re not in China, and it’s very inefficiently spread, that in fact, it may not be something that is of a major threat outside of China.”

“When it became clear that not only is it transmitted efficiently from human to human, but that it was very, very contagious in the sense of easily transmittable, and it also had a high degree of morbidity and mortality, at that point it became very clear that we were in for a problem because we were getting travel cases from China,” Fauci continued. “And even though we cut off the Chinese pretty quickly, once it seeded in this country, then it does what any highly transmissible virus does.”

“The only thing I know [with] the end result was that early on, we did not get correct information,” Fauci later added. “And the incorrect information was propagated right from the beginning because, you know, when the first cases came out, that were identified, I think, on December 31st in China, and we became aware of this, they said this was just animal to human. Period.”

“Now, we know retrospectively that there was ongoing transmission from human to human in China, probably at least a few weeks before then. And then when we finally did get the virus here, it became clear that when we started looking at what was going on, that that was misinformation right from the beginning,” Fauci concluded. “So, whosever fault that was, you know, we’re going to go back and take a look at that when this is all over. But clearly, it was not the right information that was given to us.”

WATCH:

TRANSCRIPT:

JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: Joining me now is Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

So let’s just start in January or February. When was the first time that you realized that this was a major problem? Because I remember, in late January, you were telling people, early February, this was nothing to be concerned for most Americans — Americans, for the most part, were not at risk.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It was in January at a time when the Chinese were saying, first that it was only going from an animal to a human, and then when there were human cases that looked like they were transmitted, that it was very inefficiently transmitted.

It was at that time in, I believe, mid-January, that we made the statement that if in fact that’s true, that this is mostly animal to human and we’re not in China, and it’s very inefficiently spread, that in fact, it may not be something that is of a major threat outside of China.

When it became clear that not only is it transmitted efficiently from human to human, but that it was very, very contagious in the sense of easily transmittable, and it also had a high degree of morbidity and mortality, at that point, it became very clear —

WATTERS: Right.

FAUCI: — that we were in for a problem because we were getting travel cases from China.

And even though we cut off the Chinese pretty quickly, once it seeded in this country, then it does what any highly transmissible virus does.

WATTERS: Right.

FAUCI: So there’s nothing inconsistent with the information we had.

WATTERS: No, I totally understand. You were working with the information that was available at the time. At this point, do you feel like you were misled by the Chinese? Do you feel misled by the World Health Organization? Because you had — I said — said nice things about the leader of the World Health Organization.

Now looking back, it looks like he was not completely honest, or maybe he was deceived. How do you feel about that?

FAUCI: You know, I don’t know where the missteps went. The only thing I know [with] the end result was that early on, we did not get correct information. And the incorrect information was propagated right from the beginning. Because you know, when the first cases came out, that were identified, I think, on December 31st in China, and we became aware of this, they said this was just animal to human. Period.

Now, we know retrospectively that there was ongoing transmission from human to human in China, probably at least a few weeks before then.

WATTERS: Right.

FAUCI: And then when we finally did get the virus here —

WATTERS: Right.

FAUCI: — it became clear that when we started looking at what’s going on, that that was misinformation right from the beginning.

So whosever fault that was, you know, we’re going to go back and take a look at that when this is all over. But clearly, it was not the right information that was given to us.

WATTERS: Sure. Right. So now that we’ve done this almost full-scale national economic lockdown, are there things that cross your mind and think maybe, would you have done it any differently? Could you have done everybody under 45 go to work? Could you have maybe done regional shutdowns? Could you have maybe just concentrated in the hotspots?

Could you have had everybody wear masks to work? Are there other things that you think maybe you could have done to spare the country from a full economic shutdown?

FAUCI: Well, my advice was that we were dealing with a situation with the transmissibility — was efficient enough that we could not take the chance that we would just let people get infected and think that there would be no really very serious consequences because people who were young, even though they did not necessarily get ill at all, clearly would be the vectors to transmit it to the people who are highly vulnerable, the elderly and those with underlying conditions.

So one of those things that you can look at —

WATTERS: Right.

FAUCI: — is how do you cut that off? And the way — the best way to do it is to have a physical separation, the way we have with the guidelines that are now in effect.

WATTERS: I have a very high regard for you, Dr. Fauci. But I just want to be fair, because there are some people who are very angry with you who think that this, I guess, advice to the President to shut everything down, to close businesses has really cost a lot of people’s jobs, their livelihood, their businesses, everything. What would you say to those people?

FAUCI: Well, I mean, obviously, that’s very unfortunate. I mean, that’s a consequence that you know, you have to balance the attempt to save as many lives as you can —

WATTERS: Right.

FAUCI: — with what is known as a deleterious effect on the economy, which is the reason why, right now we’re looking very carefully about how we can possibly in a safe way, reopen, as they say, reopen the country to the economic opportunities that we have.

We felt at the time and still do now that that was the right thing to do. Could there have been other approaches? I mean, I’m humble enough to know that maybe there could be. That was the choice we made based on the information that we have.

One can always second guess, but that happens. This is a serious situation that has impacted a lot of people.

WATTERS: Right, and you believe we’re at our peak, probably this weekend, fingers crossed, hopefully?

FAUCI: I hope so. I mean, what we’re seeing, for example, in a place like New York, which we predicted correctly that this would be a really bad week, where every day, the next day would be more deaths than the previous day.

But as that was happening, the engine that fuels the outbreak in New York, namely the number of new cases that lead to hospitalizations, that lead to intensive care, that lead to death, clearly are significantly less this week than they were the previous week.

So it seems almost a paradox, but it really isn’t. At the same time that the deaths continue to go up, we are having indications that we are reaching that peak, that apex and will start to come down.

If it acts the way we’ve seen it act in China, that decline will be very steep. So we may go from a significant number of deaths even more than we’ve seen, to a situation where there’s a radical drop in the number of deaths, which will be the last to see, but the hospitalizations are already indicating that we’re going in the right direction.

WATTERS: All right, we can only hope. Dr. Fauci, thank you so much.

FAUCI: You’re quite welcome. Good to be with you.