Anthony Fauci is on a mission to get more Americans to take COVID-19 seriously.
In an interview with InStyle magazine, in which he posed wearing sunglasses and stars-and-stripes socks, Fauci said this of his original advice to not wear face masks: “I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct. We were told in our task-force meetings that we have a serious problem with the lack of PPEs and masks for the health providers who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to take care of sick people.”
‘By the beginning of the year we should have the first tens of millions and then hundreds of millions of doses.’
“When it became clear that the infection could be spread by asymptomatic carriers who don’t know they’re infected, that made it very clear that we had to strongly recommend masks. And also, it soon became clear that we had enough protective equipment and that cloth masks and homemade masks were as good as masks that you would buy from surgical supply stores,” he told interviewer Norah O’Donnell, the managing editor of CBS
Evening News. “But our knowledge changed and our realization of the state of the outbreak changed.”
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for three decades continues to take a polar opposite approach to the coronavirus pandemic than that taken by the Trump administration — which has called for schools to reopen — and state lawmakers, who have enacted a patchwork of policies, including opening up their economies and refusing to introduce mandates to wear face masks, despite a surge in new cases in their states.
Fauci is optimistic about a vaccine. “If all goes well and there aren’t any unanticipated bumps in the road, hopefully, we should know whether the vaccine is safe and effective by the end of this calendar year, or the beginning of 2021,” he said. “By the beginning of the year we should have the first tens of millions and then hundreds of millions of doses.” On his role at the NIAID, he said, “I don’t see any termination within the near future because I judge [my career] by my energy and my effectiveness.”
O’Donnell asked Fauci about media restrictions and being “persona non grata” in the White House. “Sometimes they don’t allow you out regardless of what administration you’re in,” he replied. On the chilly reception from the White House, he said, “Well, you know, that really changes week to week and month to month. Sometimes you say things that are not widely accepted in the White House, and that’s just a fact of life.”
Trump recently upped the ante in the White House’s war of words with Fauci, taking aim at the doctor’s early response to the pandemic. “Dr. Fauci’s a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes,” the president said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. “Like you don’t have to ban them coming in from very infected China. I did it anyway and we saved hundreds of thousands of lives. I banned Europe from coming in when Italy and France and Spain were having all the problems.”
‘I certainly am energetic. And I think everybody thinks I’m doing more than an outstanding job.
“They’ve been wrong about a lot things, including face masks,” Trump added. “Maybe they’re wrong, maybe not, but a lot of them said don’t wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. Now they are saying wear a mask. So a lot of mistakes were made — a lot of mistakes.” Trump has rarely worn a mask in public and has not said Americans should wear masks. In a break with his tradition of eschewing any face covering, he wore one last weekend while visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Trump recently held a rally in Tulsa, Okla., where most people did not wear any face covering. On April 3, the administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed their policies on masks, and said everyone — not just medical workers — should wear face coverings. Trump cited “recent studies” of asymptomatic transmission, but still remained sanguine on the issue: “You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it.”
Fauci recently said that the U.S. government had not been doing well with contact tracing, the process of tracing people who have been in contact with someone identified to have the virus, instructing them to stay home, and connecting them with the resources they need to do so. “I don’t think we’re doing very well, for a number of reasons, and not all of which is the fault of the system,” he said in an interview last month with CNN
As of Friday, COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, had infected at least 13.9 million people globally and 3,6 million in the U.S. as of Friday. It had killed 593,218 people worldwide and 138,988 in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. On Thursday, the U.S. recorded more than 70,000 new cases of COVID-19, a new single-day record, according to Johns Hopkins and other independent sources.
Fauci, for his part, took a defiant tone with InStyle, “With all due modesty, I think I’m pretty effective. I certainly am energetic. And I think everybody thinks I’m doing more than an outstanding job.”