Dr. Anthony Fauci denied that he misled the American people on COVID mitigation measures and policies.
In an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl on “This Week” that aired on Sunday, Fauci said the biggest misconception about him was that he misled the public when narratives changed, especially regarding face coverings and school closures.
“So, what’s the biggest misconception about you?” Karl asked.
“I think the misconception is that I was misleading people,” Fauci replied. “You know, to say that I, who have been adviser to seven presidents, and have never ever veered one way or the other from an ideological standpoint, and for somebody to say that, you know, I’m… political, I mean that’s completely crazy.”
But Fauci acknowledged that mistakes were made, resulting in changes as health officials learned more about COVID and how it was transmitted.
“Would you take back what you said about masks?” Karl asked. “Obviously, the guidance changed… but you were very definitive. You said there’s absolutely no reason for people to be wearing masks.”
“Yes. I mean, sure, if I had to do it over again, of course. I would have analyzed it a little bit better,” said Fauci.
Karl then asked Fauci if it was a mistake to close schools for much of the pandemic.
“I don’t want to use the word ‘mistake,’ Jon, because if I do it gets taken out of the context that you’re asking me the question on,” Fauci equivocated. “I would say that what we should realize and have realized, that there will be deleterious collateral consequences when you do something like that. This idea that this virus doesn’t afflict children is not so. It does. We’ve lost close to 1,500 kids so far… So, it isn’t without consequences.”
“If you go back, and I ask anybody to go back over the number of times that I’ve said we’ve got to do everything we can to keep the schools open, no one plays that clip. They always come back and say, ‘Fauci was responsible for closing schools.'”
“But a lot of schools were closed,” Karl pressed. “[T]here was a lot of remote learning… It went on– in some jurisdictions for the better part of two years… And we’ve seen the impact. We’ve seen what’s happened in terms of lower reading scores, lower math scores… And who knows the psychological impact… I mean it was a steep cost.”
“It was,” Fauci admitted. But “[t]he most important thing is to protect the children,” he added.
In August, Fauci announced plans to retire from his posts as the president’s top medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I will be leaving these positions in December of this year to pursue the next chapter of my career,” he said. “After more than 50 years of government service, I plan to pursue the next phase of my career while I still have so much energy and passion for my field.”
“I want to use what I have learned as NIAID Director to continue to advance science and public health and to inspire and mentor the next generation of scientific leaders as they help prepare the world to face future infectious disease threats.”