Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared to take credit for the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine in an interview that aired Sunday night. Throughout the pandemic last year, however, Fauci consistently downplayed the suggestion that a vaccine could be developed before the end of 2020.
As The Federalist reported, Fauci at the beginning of the pandemic in January said Phase I trials for the vaccine wouldn’t start for another three months. He also said at that time that the earliest he believed a vaccine could be ready for emergency use was one year — or possibly even two. In early March 2020, Fauci said, “It will take at least a year to a year and a half to have a vaccine we can use.”
Later in the year, Fauci continued to doubt the widespread availability of a vaccine, telling Reuters in August 2020 that “tens of millions” of doses would probably be available in the early months of 2021.
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When the vaccine made its debut in the U.S. in December, Fauci reversed his narrative and began encouraging people to get the shot once it became available to them.
“We need to put to rest any concept that this was rushed in any inappropriate way. This is really solid,” Fauci said.
Despite his sudden hope for Operation Warp Speed’s vaccine rollout, Fauci continued to criticize the administration’s goals, telling NBC’s “Today” that he was “disappointed” that the U.S. did not meet the projection of “20 million doses into people today, by the end of the (year) 2020.”
On Sunday, however, Fauci took credit for the rapid development of the vaccine, telling CNN that it was “the best decision” he’d ever made.
“When I saw what happen In New York City almost over running of our health care system, it was like Oh my goodness,” Fauci told the outlet. “And that’s when it became very clear that the decision we made on January the 10th to go all out and develop a vaccine may have been the best decision that I’ve ever made with regard to an intervention as the director of the institute.”
Fauci did not give former President Donald Trump any credit for developing the vaccine (at least not in any portion of the interview that aired), leading Trump to slam Fauci in a statement released Monday, also calling out former White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who told CNN in the same program that Trump was to blame for the first wave of COVID-19 deaths.
“We developed American vaccines by an American President in record time, nine months, which is saving the entire world,” Trump said in his statement. “We bought billions of dollars of these vaccines on a calculated bet that they would work, perhaps the most important bet in the history of the world. Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx moved far too slowly, and if it were up to them we’d currently be locked in our basements as our country suffered through a financial depression. Families, and children in particular, would be suffering the mental strains of this disaster like never before.”
“Dr. Fauci was incapable of pressing the FDA to move it through faster. I was the one to get it done, and even the fake news media knows and reports this,” Trump added. “Dr. Fauci is also the king of ‘flip-flops’ and moving the goalposts to make himself look as good as possible. He fought me so hard because he wanted to keep our country open to countries like China. I closed it against his strong recommendation, which saved many lives. Dr. Fauci also said we didn’t need to wear masks, then a few months later he said we needed to wear masks, and now, two or three of them. Fauci spent U.S. money on the Wuhan lab in China—and we now know how that worked out.”