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The US's top infectious-diseases expert said 'it would be nice' if Trump hadn't scrapped the NSC's global-health unit

insider@insider.com (John Haltiwanger)
·3 min read
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  • The nation's top expert on infectious diseases said it would be nice if a global-health unit that President Donald Trump scrapped were still around.

  • Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told House lawmakers, "It would be nice if the office were still there."

  • Fauci said that the bottom line for the coronavirus outbreak in the US is that "it's going to get worse."

  • In the US, at least 31 people have died, and there have been over 1,000 confirmed cases.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As he warned that the worst is yet to come for the coronavirus outbreak in the US, the nation's top infectious-diseases expert told House lawmakers it would be nice if President Donald Trump hadn't eliminated the National Security Council's global-health unit.

"We worked very well with that office. It would be nice if the office was still there," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday.

The US's top infectious-diseases expert said 'it would be nice' if Trump hadn't scrapped the NSC's global-health unit
The US's top infectious-diseases expert said 'it would be nice' if Trump hadn't scrapped the NSC's global-health unit

AP

In May 2018, Trump ordered the NSC's global-health unit to close and reassigned Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, who would've overseen the US response to a pandemic in that role. This came not long after John Bolton, the national security adviser, pushed out Tom Bossert, the White House homeland security adviser who had pushed for a robust strategy against pandemics and biological attacks.

The Trump administration has faced widespread criticism over its response to the coronavirus outbreak, particularly problems that have led to a lack of testing kits.

In Wednesday's hearing, Fauci presented the coronavirus outbreak to lawmakers in stark terms and warned against large gatherings.

"We would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience as the NBA plays, so be it," he said.

"We will see more cases, and things will get worse than they are right now," he added.

He said that the "bottom line" is that "it's going to get worse."

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When pushed for projections about the scale of the outbreak, Fauci said: "I can't give you a realistic number until we put into the factor of how we respond. If we are complacent and don't do really aggressive containment and mitigation, the number could go way up and be involved in many, many millions."

Fauci has been widely applauded as a voice of clarity amid the outbreak as Trump has contradicted experts and spread misinformation. Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts urged Fauci to push back when the president is at odds with the facts.

"The president has made some bizarre statements here," Lynch said. "The cases are not going down. The American people should be aware of that. You should be forthright in explaining that."

"I have never ever held back telling exactly what is going on from a public-health standpoint," said Fauci, who has advised six presidents.

Globally, more than 121,500 people have been infected by the coronavirus and over 4,300 people have died. In the US, at least 31 people have died, and there have been over 1,000 confirmed cases.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

Read the original article on Business Insider