US top medical expert Anthony Fauci calls White House criticism bizarre

'Let's stop this nonsense' and fight coronavirus, says Dr Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to testify before a Senate Committee hearing in Washington. AP
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to testify before a Senate Committee hearing in Washington. AP

US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said the White House effort to discredit him was "bizarre", and called for a united response to the pandemic with the words: "Let's stop this nonsense."

Dr Fauci, who has become a popular and trusted figure during the coronavirus outbreak, came under criticism from President Donald Trump and some of his Republican allies as he warned against reopening the US economy too soon.

The recent surge in infections occurred mainly in states that were among the earliest to lift coronavirus restrictions, as he predicted.

"One of the things that's part of the problem is the dynamics of the divisiveness that is going on now," Dr Fauci told The Atlantic.

"It becomes difficult to engage in a dialogue of honest evaluation of what's gone right and what's gone wrong.

US President Donald Trump looks at infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci at the White House in Washington. Reuters 
US President Donald Trump looks at infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci at the White House in Washington. Reuters 

"We've got to own this, reset this and say, 'OK, let's stop this nonsense and figure out how can we get our control over this now'."

The White House at the weekend released a list of statements Dr Fauci made early in the pandemic that turned out to be wrong as understanding of the disease developed.

Mr Trump said this week he valued Dr Fauci's input but did not always agree with him.

"You know, it is a bit bizarre. I don't really fully understand it," Dr Fauci said.

He said he believed the people involved in releasing that list, which was misleading because it did not include all of his statements or other context, were really "taken aback by what a big mistake that was".

White House tension with Dr Fauci has risen with the decline of Mr Trump’s popularity in opinion polls over his handling of the outbreak.

The president, who is seeking re-election in November, has become increasingly critical of government health officials and their guidance as a rise in infections threatens the easing of shutdown restrictions across the country.

New cases are now averaging about 60,000 a day around the country.

The White House has denied that Dr Fauci has been sidelined.

But last week he told the Financial Times that he had not briefed Mr Trump in two months.

Dr Fauci said on Wednesday that his advice was passed on to Mr Trump through Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force.

He recommended that the country acknowledge that things were not going in the right direction.

The rising numbers of infections showed "we've got to do better".

Dr Fauci said the states must get on the same page and work on ways to control the virus.

"So, rather than these games people are playing, let's focus on that," he said.

Published: July 16, 2020 01:59 AM

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