Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, pushed back on Sunday against a politically disastrous claim made by Democrat Vice President Kamala Harris during an interview last week.
Fauci disputed comments that Harris made to the Los Angeles Times after she said that the administration failed to anticipate the rise in coronavirus variants.
“We didn’t see Delta coming. I think most scientists did not — upon whose advice and direction we have relied — didn’t see Delta coming,” Harris told the Los Angeles Times in an interview. “We didn’t see Omicron coming. And that’s the nature of what this, this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants.”
The Times reported:
President Biden celebrated “independence” from the virus in an upbeat July 4 speech, saying, “While the virus hasn’t been vanquished, we know this: It no longer controls our lives. It no longer paralyzes our nation. And it’s within our power to make sure it never does again.”
At the time, some public health experts warned that his optimism was premature, given that the Delta variant was already a significant threat. Harris denied that the administration declared victory prematurely, or ever.
“We have not been victorious over it,” Harris added. “I don’t think that in any regard anyone can claim victory when, you know, there are 800,000 people who are dead because of this virus.”
Fauci responded to Harris’ remarks during an interview on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“We definitely saw variants coming,” Fauci said. “What was not anticipated was the extent of the mutations in the amino acid substitutions in omicron, which was really unprecedented.”