After throwing shade at President Trump during a press conference on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the former president’s lack of candor “very likely” cost lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on CNN’s “New Day,” Fauci said that President Trump’s “divisiveness” about certain key issues, like wearing masks, could have helped spread the coronavirus and killed people.
“We’ve had a lot of divisiveness, facts that were very, very clear that were questioned,” Fauci said. “People were not trusting what health officials were saying. There was great divisiveness. Masking became a political issue. So, what the president was saying, right from the get-go, you know, let’s reset this. Let’s everybody get on the same page, trust each other; let the science speak. The president made the analogy of a war. Yeah, I mean, if you look at the numbers, over 400,000 people dead. That’s quite comparable to World War II. I mean, that’s the reason why we’ve really got to restore trust and restore a unified approach.”
Host John Berman then asked if Trump’s “lack of candor” led to more deaths; Fauci agreed that it “likely” did.
“Did the lack of candor, did the lack of facts in some cases over the last year cost lives?” asked Brennan.
“You know, it very likely did,” Fauci replied. “You know, I don’t want that, John, to be a soundbite, but I think if you just look at that, you can see that when you’re starting to go down paths that are not based on any science at all — and we’ve been there before. I don’t want to rehash it. That is not helpful at all. And particularly when you’re in the situation of almost being in a crisis with the number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths that we have, when you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful.”
JUST NOW: "It very likely did."
Dr. Anthony Fauci on whether the lack of candor on coronavirus in the previous administration cost lives.@NewDay pic.twitter.com/AVdbmfl1YY
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) January 22, 2021
During a White House press briefing on Thursday, Fauci also said that he felt liberated by the Biden presidency, allowing him to speak strictly about science and facts without getting swept up into political drama.
“The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what evidence, what the science is and know that that’s it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling,” he said.
Fauci also appreciated that he did not have to publicly contradict the president anymore on issues of science.
“It was very clear that there were things that were said, be it regarding things like Hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact,” said Fauci.
Fauci did, however, contradict reports that said President Trump had no vaccine distribution plan in place, which stood in the face of all available facts.
“We certainly are not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution,” said Fauci.
“But if you look at the plan that the president has put forth about the things that he’s going to do, mainly get community vaccine centers up, get pharmacies more involved, where appropriate get the Defense Production Act involved not only, perhaps, with getting more vaccine, but even the things you need to get a good vaccine program, for example needles and syringes,” Fauci continued. “So it’s taking what’s gone on, but amplifying it in a big way.”