Fauci says Biden administration will be ‘transparent and honest’ on Covid unlike Trump regime

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Griffin Connolly
·4 min read
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Dr Anthony Fauci said on Thursday it is ‘liberating’ to work for Biden instead of Trump. (Getty Images)
Dr Anthony Fauci said on Thursday it is ‘liberating’ to work for Biden instead of Trump. (Getty Images)

At his first press briefing of the Biden presidency, Dr Anthony Fauci admitted he feels liberated to be “transparent” and “honest” with the American people about the state of the coronavirus pandemic – a sharp departure from the Trump administration’s whitewashing of the crisis.

“One of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago, when I was with the president … is that … we're going be completely transparent, open, and honest,” said Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health and the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

“If things go wrong, [we will] not point fingers, but correct them,” he said. “Everything we do will be based on science and evidence. I mean, that was literally a conversation I had 15 minutes ago with the president. And he has said that multiple times.”

Dr Fauci skyrocketed to fame in 2020 as one of the lone voices in the Trump administration willing to defy the president and tell the truth about the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Trump admitted at multiple points last year that his strategy was to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic in order to avoid “chaos” and panic among the American people.

He openly castigated Dr Fauci as an “idiot” and smeared him as something of a doomsday prophet about the virus, which killed more than 400,000 Americans during the last year of his presidency.

At Thursday’s press conference, Dr Fauci appeared both relieved and downright jubilant to be out from under the thumb of a Trump regime trying to suppress his concerns about the deadly course the virus has been taking in the US.

Asked on Thursday at the White House press briefing if he wanted to clarify anything he said about the pandemic during the previous administration, Dr Fauci said he had never let pressure from Mr Trump lead him away from speaking truthfully about the deadliness of the virus or the effectiveness of the government’s response.

“I always said everything on the basis [of fact]. That's why I got in trouble sometimes,” Dr Fauci said.

Mr Biden has retained Dr Fauci as his administration implements a new national strategy to contain the Covid crisis. Dr Fauci is serving as Mr Biden’s chief medical adviser.

While Dr Fauci was more open on Thursday than he has been in months about his frustrations under Mr Trump, he declined to directly disparage his former boss.

“I don't want to be going back, you know, over history, but it was very clear that there were things that were said regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that, that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact,” Dr Fauci said.

In the early months of the pandemic, Mr Trump often touted hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, as a safe therapeutic to combat the symptoms of Covid – even though there was not nearly enough scientific data at the time to make such a claim.

That and several other medically dubious (and downright false) claims from the president put Dr Fauci in the unenviable position of correcting the record while trying not to directly condemn the president’s rhetorical recklessness.

“I can tell you I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president,” he said on Thursday, when asked by reporters about the differences between working for Mr Trump and Mr Biden.

Dr Fauci indicated that under the previous administration there was a constant feeling that if you contradicted the president and his narrative that the virus was under control, there would be “repercussions”.

The Biden administration is not exerting that same kind of top-down pressure, Dr Fauci said, and is instead letting him and other scientists lead from the front.

“The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know what the evidence, what the science is … [that you can] let the science speak, is somewhat of a liberating feeling,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Dr Fauci announced the US would not be leaving the World Health Organisation (WHO), which Mr Trump had been in the process of withdrawing the US from over complaints that WHO leadership was in the back pocket of China.

Mr Biden on Thursday unveiled his administration’s 198-page strategy for containing and defeating the virus.

In the first 36 hours of his presidency, he has already signed several executive orders aiming to draw the Covid crisis to a rapid close, including a mandate to wear masks on federal lands and in federal buildings and measures to accelerate vaccine distribution and the production of other Covid-related resources.

“Our national strategy is comprehensive, it's based on science, not politics. It's based on truth, not denial. And it's detailed,” the president told reporters gathered in the Oval Office.

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